Equality according to whom? Debating an age-related restriction in the upcoming disability legislation reform in Finland

Elsevier, Journal of Aging Studies, Volume 58, September 2021
Era S.

Within many countries, the policies of disability and old age have been developing on distinct paths. Even though the prevalence of disability is higher in older populations, older persons tend to be excluded from disability discourses. Taking Finland's disability service legislation reform as an example, this article elaborates on the justifications for excluding or including older persons from disability policies. The paper analyses the public statements given in 2017 to a proposal that introduced an age-related restriction to disability services in order to understand how the restriction is argued for and against, and what kind of conceptualisations of old age and disability the statements portray. This study found that although equality is the most important principle underlying the reform, the conceptualisation of equality varies. Depending on who is included in the disability discourse, the idea of what is fair differs. Hence, it is necessary to recognise the differing understandings of equality in the debate regarding the age-related restriction. In addition, I argue that equality research can be helpful in assessing the fairness of public policies at the intersection of ageing and disability.