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Keywords:

  • ageism;
  • neoliberalism;
  • austerity;
  • generational conflict;
  • active ageing;
  • Grey power

This article takes issue with the apparently entrenched political narrative about ageing and older people which is routinely expressed in both ministerial rhetoric and media headlines warning of the ‘burden’ of dependency and intergenerational strife. It argues that this narrative is rooted in the potent combination of ageism and neoliberalism and is being ramped-up by the Coalition Government's austerity fixation. The social and political risks of this omnipresent narrative are discussed as is the persistence of the case that generational conflict is inevitable, in both the UK and US, despite the complete absence of any evidence supporting it. The article finishes by urging action to alter the course of both individual and societal ageing and so avoid future spending demands as well as improving the quality of life of current and future generations of older people.