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 6: Urban Economies in the EU (ex Italy)

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


There is a sharp contrast in policy approaches toward an aging population between cities in the US and those in the EU. The pervasive active engagement of US cities has just been elaborated in Chapter 5. Among cities in the EU there is a much greater variety of response or even of awareness of the existence of positive consequences that may be achieved. This is in part because in many instances the responsibility for policy is shared by the city itself, and other metropolitan or regional governmental bodies. But it is also because of conditions, social philosophies, public institutions, family relations, and other things that create a clear distinction between urban policies on the two sides of the Atlantic. In this chapter we will examine both the lack of policy in many EU cities and the policies that several cities have adopted in response to this demographic development. It is commonplace to note that European societies and families are structured and behave differently from their American counterparts. The US is usually portrayed, in comparison to Europe, as a highly mobile society with individualism at the forefront, with weak social networks and with the sense of a long-term family homestead almost non-existent. This may all be true but it is clear to us that the impacts of globalization, of an increased role for market-based decision making, of workers increasingly footloose as they chase job opportunities all over the continent or indeed the world economic space, and of incomes generally rising over...

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