This paper is a preliminary discussion of the material aspects of globalisation in terms of the effects on older men and women of movements of trade, capital and people round the world. While some elders have benefited, most notably where pensions and health care are well developed, the majority of older men and women are among the poor who have lost out the world over. Free trade, economic restructuring, the globalisation of finance and the upsurge in migration have all tended to affect elders badly in most parts of the world. These developments have been overseen or even dictated by intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) such as the International Monetary Foundation (IMF), the World Bank and World Trade Organization (WTO) while other IGOs with less power have been limited to anti ageist exhortation. Globalisation transfers resources from the poor to the rich within countries and between them. It therefore increases social problems but at the same time diminishes the capacity of countries to make social policy. However the effects of globalisation, particularly financial globalisation, on national capacity for making social policy can be exaggerated. It is possible for political will to combat international economic orthodoxy, but such cases are the exceptions rather than the rule
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