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Discussing society trends in the 21st century

Globalization, equal opportunity and demographic change: the new coordinates?

This section of innovations-reports examines the latest scientific findings in the fields of social sciences as it relates to globalization, demographic change and equal opportunity. Controversially discussed and thoroughly researched, we track current discussions detailed in studies, publications and announcements from renowned organizations and institutes. We address unsolved issues within key topics such as globalization, equal opportunity and demographic change, which are of paramount interest regarding their impact to society and the individual.

How will globalization occupy us in the future?

Globalization, a meanwhile overused expression, refers to the worldwide integration of economies, politics, society, culture and environment . Globalization, equal opportunity and demographic change are phenomena that mean different things to different people the world over. Some scientists view globalization as a process that began with the first species of man. Others date globalization back to the 15th century as European conquerors fanned out across the world. Still others accept it as a tide that was initiated at the beginning of World War II.

The fact is, globalization has transformed the planets into a village affecting all parts of life. The far-reaching structural transformation of overall society triggered by globalization has positive as well as negative impacts. The world continues to be divided into industrial, emerging and developing countries as globalization spreads. Globalization also means mobility and the opening up of national identities. Globalization is the sharing of common global challenges as illustrated by demographic change and equal opportunity. While some welcome globalization as economic progress, others dismiss globalization as neoliberalism.

Are we overestimating or downplaying the significance of demographic change on society?

Demographic change is the new challenge facing society. The post-World War II baby boom generation is aging and a new one is not on the horizon. In Germany, demographic change is viewed as a social, economic and cultural threat. Experts predict that demographic change will shrink Germany's population by 7 million by the middle of the century. The impact of an aging population on society is illustrated by the limits of growth. Structural transformation, redistribution, economic collapse, job exodus: demographic change and the forthcoming population declines will force societies to drastically restructure and reshape. Demographic change will also give momentum to globalization and equal opportunity.

While all of the signs so far point to "big", will demographic change acquire a new modesty? Demographic change and globalization are tightly interleaved. Calls are being made for demographic change and its already entrenched realities to be resolved at the highest level of decision making and understood as a non-partisan challenge for the present and future.

Has the equal opportunity mandate really arrived in practice?

No one accepts discrimination. Regarding the gender question, equal opportunity for minorities and abolishing discrimination based on ethnic or ideological traits, equal opportunity and the equal opportunity legislation introduced in 2006 have established benchmarks. The question is, has this already led to a well-established mindset of equal opportunity among the population? And is equal opportunity actually being practiced in business, politics and society against the backdrop of globalization?

We are reminded that if the pursuance of equal opportunity is left to those who hold the power in society, then equal opportunity for women in the workplace will make hardly any progress worth mentioning. Equal opportunity and demographic change is not a generational question. The obligations that equal opportunity will impose on all societal forces, how individuals can contribute to equal opportunity and how equal opportunity can be realized within the context of globalization and demographic change - all of these issues will continue to keep us in suspense.

Social Sciences

This area deals with the latest developments in the field of empirical and theoretical research as it relates to the structure and function of institutes and systems, their social interdependence and how such systems interact with individual behavior processes.

innovations-report offers informative reports and articles related to the social sciences field including demographic developments, family and career issues, geriatric research, conflict research, generational studies and criminology research.

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Planning for a growing elderly population

The fact that people are living longer lives represents one of the crowning achievements of the last century, but also requires careful planning on the part of governments. A new IIASA study investigated the prevalence of activity limitations among older adults in 23 low- and middle-income countries, to help policymakers prepare for the challenges associated with the world’s aging population.

By 2050, the world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to reach 2 billion, of which 80% will live in low- and middle-income countries.

26.06.2020 | nachricht Read more

Young, but chronically diseased: One reason why the COVID-19 Pandemic looks different in the Global South

Although populations in countries in the Global South are on average younger than in Europe, they might be more vulnerable to severe forms of COVID-19. One reason for this is the higher proportion of people at working age with pre-existing chronic conditions.

At almost every age within this population group, more people in Brazil and Nigeria suffer from pre-existing chronic conditions than in European countries,...

24.06.2020 | nachricht Read more

More similar than expected: men and women adjust their health behavior after shock events

Men go to the doctor less often than women. However, after experiencing a stay in hospital, the behavior of men and women becomes more similar. For the first time, MPIDR researchers have identified this pattern by evaluating more than 65,000 data records from Danish health registries.

In the three years before going to hospital for a stroke, heart attack or gastrointestinal cancers, only 75 percent of male patients in Denmark had seen a...

04.05.2020 | nachricht Read more

The gender cliff: Why women in a partnership seldom earn more than men

In many European countries, most women earn no more than half of the household income. This seems to indicate that the belief that the man should bring home the lion’s share of the family income still prevails. However, a new study by research scientist Andre Grow shows that there may be other reasons why a man generally earns more than his partner.

In recent years and decades, substantial progress has been made in the area of gender equality: women have caught up to or even overtaken men in terms of...

23.04.2020 | nachricht Read more

Lack of Knowledge and Uncertainty about Algorithms in Online Services

Although Swiss internet users use online services where algorithms select search results, recommendations and information daily, they know little about their role and function. This leads to uncertainty, a feeling of powerlessness and a desire for more control, as a representative survey of Swiss internet users conducted by the University of Zurich shows.

Services like Google, WhatsApp, Instagram or Netflix are based on algorithmic selection: They automatically select the content that is presented to us and...

06.04.2020 | nachricht Read more

High acceptance for smart products

72 per cent of all Swiss nationals now own smart products. The majority of the population views smart products very positively. A key role is played by the trust in the appliances, as the first representative study in Switzerland on the topic has shown.

The “Smart Products Report 2020” by the Lucerne and St. Gallen universities on the use and consumer perception of smart products is based on an online survey...

21.02.2020 | nachricht Read more

Trash talk hurts, even when it comes from a robot

Discouraging words from machines impair human game play

Trash talking has a long and colorful history of flustering game opponents, and now researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have demonstrated that...

19.11.2019 | nachricht Read more

New measure for the wellbeing of populations could replace Human Development Index

IIASA researchers have introduced a new, simple measure for human wellbeing across countries, called the Human Life Indicator (HLI), that takes inequality into account and could replace the commonly used but error-prone Human Development Index (HDI).

Measuring the overall wellbeing of populations is crucial for evaluating the success of policies. The Human Life Indicator expresses wellbeing in terms of...

07.11.2018 | nachricht Read more

Because not only arguments count

The phenomenon of opinion polarization has gained a lot of public attention in recent years, especially in the political context. Using tools from network science and game theory, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences were able to show that social interaction has a pronounced influence on opinion polarization. Their approach allows for a precise analysis of the entire opinion-forming process and could, among other things, contribute to a better understanding of opinion tendencies in social networks.

We all react very sensitively to positive or negative signals in the behavior of our peers and unconsciously include this feedback in our own decision-making....

30.10.2018 | nachricht Read more

Being Spoiled for Choice – What Happens in the Human Brain

Who has not faced this situation? Having too many choices when shopping for a product creates a feeling that we call “being spoiled for choice.” Academic studies have proven for some time that consumers find a large selection of products attractive, but this makes it increasingly difficult for them to decide what to buy. A team centered on the Tübingen scientist, Dr. Axel Lindner, from the University Hospital for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy and the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research has now discovered what takes place in our brains when we are “spoiled for choice.

Who has not faced this situation? Having too many choices when shopping for a product creates a feeling that we call “being spoiled for choice.” Academic...

02.10.2018 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

Im Focus: ILA Goes Digital – Automation & Production Technology for Adaptable Aircraft Production

Live event – July 1, 2020 - 11:00 to 11:45 (CET)
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM l Stade is presenting its forward-looking R&D portfolio for the first time at...

Im Focus: AI monitoring of laser welding processes - X-ray vision and eavesdropping ensure quality

With an X-ray experiment at the European Synchrotron ESRF in Grenoble (France), Empa researchers were able to demonstrate how well their real-time acoustic monitoring of laser weld seams works. With almost 90 percent reliability, they detected the formation of unwanted pores that impair the quality of weld seams. Thanks to a special evaluation method based on artificial intelligence (AI), the detection process is completed in just 70 milliseconds.

Laser welding is a process suitable for joining metals and thermoplastics. It has become particularly well established in highly automated production, for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

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