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SUSTAINABILITY| 08.04.2021

Friendly cities and participatory spaces to cultivate senior citizen economics and well-being 

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Over-65s are responsible for 40 percent of global economic consumption. In Europe, the purchasing power of people between 50 and 75 years of age is on average 12 percent higher than other age groups. They are in another life stage, they look after their health and may continue to works, save and consume.

The so-called ‘silver economy,’ the phenomenon that led MAPFRE and Deusto Business School to coin the neologism ageingnomics, offers a multitude of opportunities that public policies must capitalize upon, going beyond traditional social protection mechanisms such as public health and pensions. This silver revolution brings with it the need to foster public-private collaboration and to incentivize the development of technologies and new business activities aimed at seniors.

In light of the need to address this inexorable demographic shift from the public sector, Ageingnomics Research Center’s latest meeting was titled Territories in favor of the senior economy. The meeting was joined by around 450 users via web and social networks, and received over 3,000 post views. The center was created by Fundación MAPFRE to ensure that Spain leads the global strategy to open new opportunities in relation to the aging population, and to champion a positive take on this demographic shift.

 

“The meeting was joined by around 450 users via web and social networks, and received over 3,000 post views”

This latest event was also joined by the Mayor of Zaragoza, Jorge Azcón, as well as Francisco Igea, Vice President of the Junta of Castile and León, and Juana Lopez, head of policies against depopulation at the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge. The session was moderated by Fundación MAPFRE’s Director of Insurance and Social Protection, Clara Bazán, together with Iñaki Ortega, the Director of Deusto Business School in Madrid. The meeting was also joined by Juan Fernández Palacios, Managing Director of the Fundación MAPFRE Ageingnomics Research Center, and Group Chief External Relations and Communications Officer Eva Piera.


Fighting the epidemic of loneliness in cities

The Mayor of Zaragoza—a pioneering city in Spain by joining the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities—stressed that cities must rethink their public services, urban planning and mobility, and respond to the needs of the growing senior population segment.

In the words Jorge Azcón, “Municipal policies need to include specific items to encourage active aging and the promotion of social networks to help prevent loneliness among seniors — a true epidemic of our age in large cities and a serious hindrance to that healthy longevity that brings so many benefits.”

Similarly, Francisco Igea, Vice President of the Junta of Castile and León, stressed that Castile and León is not only the largest and least densely populated autonomous community in Spain, but also one of the regions with the highest number of inhabitants over 65. As a result, more effort is needed to manage policies with a view to promoting the aging economy. “Services provided to the region must be financed. We currently have a reverse-financing system that is based on a per capita calculation. We should have put the focus on our public health systems. It is more important that a high proportion of our lives are spent in good health, so campaigns are needed right now to raise awareness regarding the importance of exercise, looking after mental health, reading, etc.,” claims Igea.

Spain recently announced a plan of measures to address the demographic challenge, which provides for an investment of over 10 billion euros aimed at combating depopulation and ensuring economic and social cohesion.

Juana Lopez recalled that the demographic challenge and the fight against depopulation are complementary to one another: “Cities are in demographic crisis while rural populations are experiencing over-aging.” Lopez also noted that, in an increasingly digital world, it is important “to generate public policies that close digital gaps, to generate caregivers who can train people. I’ll leave it there as something for the future. We cannot leave the elderly behind,” she summarized.

 

Related articles:

The slow redesign of cities and neighborhoods

Towns devising solutions in their struggle against depopulation