February 2021

Summary of Second MEET & GREET Event with Network members  
Proposal for a GSA Preconference Workshop at GSA

As I write, vaccine hysteria, here in the U.S., has replaced pandemic hysteria—at least to some extent. I hope that all of you are bearing this angst well and that it recedes soon!  

  • In the middle of it all, we have held two very successful MEET & GREETs. A summary of the topics covered and the discussions can be seen here.  A theme that permeated all conversations was the vast inequities among older adults—in terms of opportunities for a secure retirement, job opportunities for continued work, access to healthcare, and most notably, the effects of the pandemic. According to Bui and colleagues (2020) in the Public Policy & Aging Report, “The COVID -19 pandemic and resulting recession hit those near retirement ages, especially women, much harder than past recessions and much harder than younger groups” (Bui, et al., p. 158). Regrettably, these authors did not examine the impact on racial or ethnic minorities, groups hit even harder by most accounts. Thus, there is much to learn about the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable older adults, identify mechanisms and processes for ameliorating the consequences of these recent shocks, and suggest possible solutions, especially for those with the greatest need.  

  • The Sloan Research Network on Aging & Work is proposing two action steps.
  • A GSA preconference workshop: Unequal Prospects for Continued Work in Later Life amid a Global Pandemic: Possible Solutions
  • Request for Network Funds: Small grants are available for studies that focus on the preconference workshop theme

In discussions with Network members at the Meet & Greets (mentioned above), we have learned that there are projects either on the planning table or in the works already addressing some of the issues around unequal aging. Therefore, we feel secure in developing a proposal to GSA for a preconference workshop based on these and other projects in the works. (It is unknown at this point whether the GSA international meeting will be in-person, online, or some combination.) We expect that we will submit our proposal by the March 11, 2021 deadline. We know already that there are at least two strong panels that we can count on to populate the program. If GSA reviewers accept our proposal mid-summer, we will invite additional participants and consider recommendations for keynote speakers. 

To augment the efforts toward this important work, we are offering grants of $5,000. Guidelines for requesting these small funds are available here. Requests will be due March 15, 2021. Notifications will be made by April 1, 2021.

In the meantime, please feel free to direct any questions, suggestions, or ideas about Network activities to me jamesjc@bc.edu

I strongly believe that if we put our collective heads together, we can suggest multiple practices for mitigating the negative impact of the current upheaval on the changing context of aging and work. I am looking forward to seeing what the Network can do. Our work has never been more important.
With best regards to all of you.

Jacquelyn James
Director, Sloan Research Network on Aging & Work
Boston College 
Network Steering Committee: Cal Halvorsen, Kendra Jason, Ruth Kanfer, Christina Matz-Costa, Phyllis Moen, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Sara Rix, Harvey Sterns, Philip Taylor, Johanna Thunell