Getting Involved in the Country

Productive ageing in different types of rural communities

Productive ageing recognises the contribution of older people to economic, social and cultural growth and helps build a sustainable community. Being involved in community life is good for individuals and good for society. However, we know very little about the participation and contribution of people aged 50 and over to rural communities.

This research aimed to develop a better understanding of productive ageing in three different types of communities in rural Victoria. It looked at social and civic engagement, familiarity with community, the value placed on social relations by people aged 50 years and over, and how community involvement was linked to community sustainability. In particular it attempts to address the question ‘Does social and civic engagement differ across declining, stable and growing rural communities?’

Despite differences among rural communities, this study showed that older people develop and maintain strong community connections and well-functioning social capital and that participation in social activities was connected with feelings of being connected with community.

It also identified health issues and lack of options as the main constraints on participation. A key message for policy makers is that older people play an important role in the sustainability of rural communities. There is much to be gained from actively supporting their participation in activities that are connected to ageing well.

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