Adapting European Cities to Population ageing: Policy challenges and best practices

The population in the European Union (EU) is undergoing a process of population ageing with implications for public spending, services, the labour market and many other areas of public and societal life. The project analysis challenges and adaptation to ageing population in eight European cities.

The stakeholder cities of Barcelona, Zaragoza, Gothenburg, Hengelo, Oslo, Greater Manchester, Amsterdam and Nantes are similarly affected by ageing, with concerns exacerbated by increasing levels of transnational migration, spatial segregation, and pockets of deprivation, which all impact the lives of older people. Thus, an important challenge for the cities is to adapt their policies and deliveries to better serve the needs of older residents.

This project will study how the eight stakeholder cities are dealing with challenges posed by population ageing. This will involve comparing the various policy-responses that the cities have adopted to become more age-friendly. An important question will be to uncover why some policies have been more successful than others. While population ageing is often perceived as a challenge, it can also present opportunities. The project will help the cities tap into the potential that older people present. The results will not only be relevant for the stakeholder cities but also for other cities that are confronted with similar challenges.

Main project outcomes include the following:

  • New knowledge concerning the quality of life of elderly residents in different cities.
  • Knowledge of how urban environments can support social integration and inclusion while counteracting social isolation among the elderly.
  • Good practice examples of how to involve elderly residents as partners in decision-making in questions that concern them.

Nordregio is leading the first work package of the project in which we analyse demographic trends in the stakeholder cities, review the state of the academic literature on population ageing in urban environments, and review relevant policies on global and European levels and in the stakeholder cities. Nordregio also conducts two case studies in Oslo and Gothenburg, and contributes to the development of policy recommendations.

The project started in mid-January 2019 and will end mid-January 2020. It is funded by ESPON EGTC and carried on in collaboration with Ecorys Nederland, Ecorys UK, Ecorys Espana Ltda.