spectacular and unprecedented development in life expectancy has
occurred over the last century, particularly for women, with
approximately every fifth person in Europe now being a woman aged 50 years or more. They constitute 70 million of the 127.8 million
people over 50 years of age in the 12 Member States participating in
the MERI project and make up 55% of this population. It is a
remarkably heterogeneous category of women and yet research has
indicated that scientific studies and official statistics tend to
neglect them as an independent target group.
The MERI project is a
response to demands made by scientists, representatives of
associations and national governments attending a European
conference on 'Equal Opportunities for Older Women' in 2001 with
its main objective being to increase knowledge about the living
conditions and problems of older women and thus improve the
empirical basis for: social and public policy and work by national
and European associations; encouraging future research work on
older women while also raising the general publics awareness about
the situation of older women.
MERI research was carried
out in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy,
the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
National articles and European overviews, both in full versions and
executive summaries, are published here in English and in the
languages of the participating countries