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Poverty in Later Life in Rural and Mountainous Switzerland and United States : A Comparative Case Study Marion Repetti

Despite existing social policies, the level of poverty among older people remains significant in Switzerland and the United States, particularly in rural and mountain areas. Yet, the literature pays little attention to the experiences of poor older people in such areas. This study, which takes place in rural and mountainous areas of Switzerland and the United States, aims to contribute to a better understanding of this phenomenon.

Content and objectives of the research

If poverty is an economic and social status, it is also a lived situation, an experience. By starting from the point of view of the people concerned, our research approach has four objectives. First, we want to understand the forms that poverty takes in old age and the type of deprivation that it generates in such regions. Second, we want to capture the effects of certain factors on the experience of poverty in old age, including the advantages and disadvantages that people accumulate over the course of their lives, and their social statuses –– such as gender and ethnicity. Third, we want to explore the role that the social environment (family, neighbors, friends, private and public organizations) plays in this context. Finally, we want to capture the influence of the geographical environment on the experience of poverty in old age.

Scientific and social context of the research project

This study focuses on the experiences of older people who live in poverty. We postulate that the knowledge they have acquired through their experiences can lead to a better understanding of poverty in old age in rural and mountainous regions, and to a better consideration of ways to improve the living conditions of these populations.

Project team


  • Marion Repetti, Institut Travail Social HES-SO Valais/Wallis, Switzerland


Project partners

  • Toni Calasanti, Department of Sociology College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences VirginiaTech, United States of America
  • Peter Streckeisen, Departement Soziale Arbeit ZHAW Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften, Switzerland

Important links

Webpage of the project on the SNSF website

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