Call for Papers: Measuring Intergenerational Justice for Public Policy (Double Issue)

The Intergenerational Justice Review (IGJR) is a peer-reviewed English language journal that is published by the Stuttgart-based Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations (FRFG) and the London-based Intergenerational Foundation (IF). The IGJR publishes articles from the disciplines from the social sciences/humanities, reflecting the current state of research on intergenerational justice. The journal is released biannually and employs a double-blind peer review process. Its editorial board consists of about 50 internationally renowned experts from ten different countries. The 2/2017 and 1/2018 double edition will have the additional help of Professor Pieter Vanhuysse, University of Southern Denmark, who will be serving as a guest editor.

The topic of the 2/2017 and 1/2018 double issue will be:

"Measuring Intergenerational Justice for Public Policy"

We welcome submissions that address ways of measuring and empirically evaluating intergenerational justice, primarily in the field of public policy.

In recent years, there has been a rising interest in measuring and comparing intergenerational justice in the expenditure schemes of welfare states. Here, the focus is on analysing the allocation of social expenditures for the elderly (i.e., citizens 65 years of age and older) relative to the share allocated for young people. A key indicator for the fairness of public policy is the amount of the attributable expenditures for the older generation (pension, care, disability, health) relative to the incidental costs of the younger generations (education, family support).

In a 2013 study published by Pieter Vanhuysse for the Bertelsmann Foundation a total of 29 OECD states were compared on the basis of a four-dimensional Intergenerational Justice Index (IJI). This index is composed of four indicators; notably among them the “elderly-bias indicator of social spending” (EBiSS); the ratio of social spending among different age groups after taking into account demographic composition. To evaluate the public policies of different nations with such an ‘intergenerational lens’ is a new and promising field of research.

A related field are indices for the well-being of young people (as a specific part of the population), both across different countries (spatially) as well as over time (temporally). The “Youthonomics Global Index”, published in 2015 by a France-based think tank of the same name, analyses the situation of young people in 64 Western and non-Western countries by means of no less than 59 different social, economic and political indicators.

The most recent in line is the “European Index of Intergenerational Fairness”, launched in early 2016 by the Intergenerational Foundation (IF). Designed as a quantitative measurement of how the position of young people has changed across the EU, its 13 indicators include housing costs, government debt, spending on pensions and education, participation in democracy, and access to tertiary education. The index’s findings indicate that the prospects of young people across the EU have deteriorated to a ten-year low.

The backdrop of these new calculations is demographic ageing that has led in many Western and Asian countries to a higher percentage of voters that are pensioners or close to the retirement age. Some authors argue that the year in which voters aged 50 and older exceed 50 percent of all voters (after adjusting for the notoriously higher turnout rates of elderly voters) entails the danger of creeping gerontocracy – the rising resource grab of elderly voters.

Articles could approach the topic through a broad range of questions, including:

  • What is a good definition of ‘elderly-biased policies’? What indices exist to measure intergenerational (in)justice in public policy? What indices exist to measure the (lack of) well-being of young people as a distinctive group?
  • How do conclusions of pro-elderly bias change once we incorporate households transfers of resources (cash) and unpaid labour (time), in addition to public transfers, into the analysis (Gal et al. 2016)?
  • How should concepts and measures of intergenerational justice differ when considering age groups versus cohorts?
  • Are the respective indicators conceptually sound and well operationalised? What are the methodological pitfalls of measuring intergenerational justice in public policy, and can they be avoided?
  • Can the methodology of indices like the HDI, the HWI, the Happy Planet Index etc. be applied to the younger part of the population as a distinct group?
  • Do ageing societies respond to the challenges of lopsided spending? What are the political and economic causes; what are promising policy responses? For instance, does high pro-elderly policy bias in both Southern and Central and Eastern Europe (Vanhuysse 2014) actually mask different generational or governance cultures? How do these cultures contrast with those of elderly but more age group-balanced societies such as in Nordic Europe?
  • Might opportunity-equalizing human capital investments be positive-sum ways of improving the intergenerational fairness of public policies (Heckman 2013; Vanhuysse 2015) ? If so, which investments, and what would be a good measure of their intergenerational fairness?
  • What – if anything – should be done to balance the welfare spending between the young and the old from a normative point of view? How might intergenerationally (more) just policies and institutions be implemented in real-world politics, given the electoral clout of elderly voters?
We welcome submissions from all fields, including (but not limited to) political science, sociology, economics, and legal studies. Philosophers and/or ethicists are invited to contribute applied normative research.

Size limit of each submission: Up to 30,000 characters (including spaces but excluding bibliography, figures, photographs and tables) For questions about style and presentation, please see our guidelines for authors.

Deadline for submissions for the double issue: 1 July 2017 / 1 February 2018

Proposed date of publication of the double issue: December 2017 / June 2018

Articles may be submitted electronically through the IGJR homepage (see "Submissions")

Demography Prize 2016-17: Note that this topic is closely related to the subject of the Demography Prize 2016/17, promoted by the Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations (FRFG) and the Intergenerational Foundation (IF). The prize is endowed with 10,000€ and has 1 July 2017 as its deadline. Young researchers may also wish to participate in this essay competition, and it is hoped that this edition of the IGJR will contain a selection of the best prize submissions in English. For more information, see

Recommended Literature:

Brighouse, Harry/ Robeyns, Ingrid (eds.) (2010): Measuring Justice. Primary Goods and Capabilities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gál, Róbert Iván/ Vanhuysse, Pieter/ Vargha, Lili (2016): Pro-elderly welfare states within child-oriented societies: Incorporating family cash and time into intergenerational transfers analysis, Hitotsubashi University Centre for Economic Institutions WPS, 17(6).

Heckman, James (2013): Giving Kids a Fair Chance. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Leach, Jeremy et al. (2016): European intergenerational fairness index: A crisis for the young, London: Intergenerational Foundation.

Tepe, Markus/ Vanhuysse, Pieter (2009): Are Aging OECD Welfare States on the Path to the Politics of Gerontocracy? Evidence from 18 Democracies, 1980-2002, in: Journal of Public Policy, 29 (1), S. 1-28.

Tepe, Markus/ Vanhuysse, Pieter (2010): Elderly bias, new social risks and social spending: change and timing in eight programmes across four worlds of welfare, 1980-2003, in: Journal of European Social Policy, 20(3), S. 217-243.

Vanhuysse, Pieter (2013): Intergenerational justice in aging societies: A cross-national comparison of 29 OECD countries, Gütersloh: Bertelsmann-Stiftung.

Vanhuysse, Pieter (2014): Intergenerational justice and public policy in Europe. Brussels: European Social Observatory (OSE) Paper Series, Opinion Paper No. 16.

Vanhuysse, Pieter (2015): Skills, stakes and clout: Early human capital foundations for European welfare futures, pp. 267-296 in The Future of Welfare in a Global Europe, Alderschot: Ashgate.

Youthonomics (Hg.) (2015): Youthonomics global index 2015: Putting the young at the top of the global agenda, Paris.