Panel Paper: Strengthening Solidarity: Civil Society Organizations and Active Aging in Mexico City

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Building 5, Sala Maestros Lower (ITAM)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Ronald J. Angel, University of Texas, Austin, Veronica Montes-de-Oca, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and Vicente Rodríguez, Instituto de Economía, Geografía y Demografía, Centro de Ciencias Sociales y Humanas

Older Mexicans are far more likely than elders in the U.S. to continue working past 65, a fact that reflects the relative inadequacy of pensions and retirement savings in that country. In this chapter we draw upon qualitative data to examine the role of various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Mexico City in fostering active aging, which includes optimal physical functioning, social participation, and the extension of social rights. The organizations we investigate frame their missions in terms of one or more of three objectives: (1) An emphasis on the quality of life, health, and self-development; (2) a concern with material needs and economic security, and (3) a focus on social and political rights. These frames are not mutually exclusive but represent ideal types that serve primarily as analytic or heuristic tools around which we organize our presentation. Our qualitative interviews reveal a wide range of organizations whose effectiveness in furthering the rights and welfare of their members reflects the human and political capital of their members. Various organizations made up primarily of women with low levels of education and little formal work experience focus on participation and optimizing health, but have little ability to extract benefits and services from the State. Other organizations, which tend to be primarily male and include ex-government employees and retired members of powerful unions, are more able to leverage their experiences in dealing with the State to further their own interests, as well as to influence policy more broadly.