Precarity and aging: A scoping review

Amanda Grenier, Stephanie Hatzifilalithis*, Debra Laliberté-Rudman, Karen Kobayashi, Patrik Marier, and Christopher Phillipson (2020)
The Gerontologist, 60(8): e620-e632


The concept of precarity holds the potential to understand insecurities and risks experienced by older people in the contemporary social, economic, political and cultural context. This study maps existing conceptualizations of precarity in relation to aging and later life, identifies key themes, and considers the use of precarity in two subfields.This article presents the findings of a two-phase scoping study of the international literature on precarity in later life. Phase I involved a review of definitions and understandings of precarity and aging. Phase II explored two emerging subthemes of disability and im/migration as related to aging and late life. A total of 121 published studies were reviewed across Phase I and Phase II. Findings reveal that the definition of precarity is connected with insecurity, vulnerability, and labor and that particular social locations, trajectories, or conditions may heighten the risk of precarity in late life. The article concludes by outlining the need for conceptual clarity, research on the unique multidimensional features of aging and precarity, the delineation of allied concepts and emerging applications, and the importance of linking research results with processes of theory building and the development of policy directives for change.