The Aging Population and the Competitiveness of Cities

The Aging Population and the Competitiveness of Cities

Benefits to the Urban Economy

Peter Karl Kresl and Daniele Ietri

While much of the current literature on the economic consequences of an aging population focuses on the negative aspects, this enlightening book argues that seniors can bring significant benefits – such as vitality and competitiveness – to an urban economy.

Chapter 4: The Consequences for Urban Economies

Peter Karl Kresl and Daniele Ietri

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, regional economics, geography, cities, politics and public policy, political economy, public policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, economics of social policy, urban and regional studies, cities, urban economics


Cities do not have the fiscal burdens of pensions, health care and long-term care that will be so important for higher levels of government, except for their own employees, of course. Nonetheless, cities are generally thought to be facing burdens of their own kind that are equally burdensome. The World Health Organization (WHO) (2007) has studied this in the context of its “Global Age-friendly Cities” program. The two dominating global trends in the 21st century are seen to be urbanization and aging. So the issue we are examining is, according to the WHO, at the center of the force that will shape global society for the foreseeable future. The WHO sees a positive element in this to the degree that cities are able to recognize “the wide range of capacities and resources among older people.” However, the primary focus is on the burdens aging will place on city resources: (1) the need to respond to the needs and preferences of seniors; (2) protection of those who are most vulnerable; (3) issues of inclusion and participation in community life; and (4) allowing seniors to act on their lifestyle choices. The WHO does recognize that not all aged individuals become infirm and in need of intensive or costly health or long-term care. Many live active lives until a very short period of time before death. The WHO also notes that many of the things done for seniors such as secure neighborhoods, safe streets, and so forth, benefit all residents, whether young, families...

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