Population ageing and Urbanisation: Developing Age-Friendly Cities

Lead Research Organisation: Keele University
Department Name: Research Institute for Social Sciences

Abstract

The World Health Organization (WHO) model of 'age-friendly cities' emphasizes the theme of supportive urban environments for older citizens. These defined as encouraging 'active ageing' by 'optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age' (WHO, Global Age-friendly Cities, 2007). The goal of establishing age-friendly cities should be seen in the context of pressures arising from population ageing and urbanisation. By 2030, two-thirds of the world's population will reside in cities, with - for urban areas in high-income countries - at least one-quarter of their populations aged 60 and over. This development raises important issues for older people:

To what extent will cities develop as age-friendly communities? Will so-called global cities integrate or segregate their ageing populations? What kind of variations might occur across different types of urban areas? How are different groups of older people affected by urban change? The 'age-friendly' city perspective has been influential in raising awareness about the impact of population ageing. Against this, the value of this approach has yet to be assessed in the context of modern cities influenced by pressures associated with global social and economic change.

The IPNS has four main objectives: first, to build a collaborative research-based network focused on understanding population ageing in the context of urban environments; second to develop a research proposal for a cross-national study examining different approaches to building age-friendly cities; third to provide a systematic review of data sets and other resources of relevance to developing a research proposal on age-friendly cities; fourth, to develop training for early career resarchers working on ageing and urban issues.

The network represents the first attempt to facilitate comparative research on the issue of age-friendly cities. It builds upon two meetings held at the Universities of Keele and Manchester in 2011 that sought to establish the basis for cross-national work around the 'age-friendly' theme. The IPNS represents brings together world class research groups in Europe, Hong Kong and North America, professionals concerned with urban design and architecture, and leading NGOs working in the field of ageing. A range of activities have been identified over the two-year funding period:

(1) Preparation of research proposals for a cross-national study of approaches to developing age-friendly urban environments.
(2) Two workshops to specify theoretical and methodological issues raised by demographic change and urbanisation.
(3) A Summer School exploring links between data resources of potential relevance to the ageing and urbanisation theme and which might underpin research proposals.
(4) Master classes for network members from key researchers in the field of urbanisation and ageing.
(5) A workshop with a user-based theme developing older people's participation in research on building age-friendly communities.
(6) Themed workshops (face-to-face and via video-link) to identify research and policy gaps drawing on inter-disciplinary perspectives

The IPNS will be sustained in a variety of ways at the end of the funding period. A collaborative research proposal as well as one to maintain the network will be major outputs from the project and work with potential funding bodies will continue after 2014. Dissemination activities will continue through professional networks, symposia at major international conferences, and involvement in expert meetings. The project will continue to be advertised through the maintenance of a website maintained by the host UK HEI. The project will continue to make a contribution to policy development around the theme of age-friendly cities, notably with the main NGOs working in the field.

Planned Impact

The IPNS collaboration will be of interest to an extensive range of users. A core group of beneficiaries will be urban local authorities involved in developing age-friendly cities. An immediate reference group is the network of cities involved in the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative around building age-friendly cities. This stretches across Europe, Asia and America and includes the involvement of public and private sector bodies and third sector organisations. The Ageing and Life Course Division of the WHO has agreed to support the work of the IPNS and will publicise its activities through its dedicated 'age-friendly cities' website.

The age-friendly theme is strongly supported at a European level, reflecting EU interest in the idea of 'active ageing'. The network will work closely in this regard with Age Platform Europe, a European network bringing together more than 160 organisations representing people aged 50 plus. Age Platform Europe has formally agreed to support the collaboration and to publicise its activities through its own website. The network already respects a unique collaboration between the third Sector, local authorities and the university sector, drawing representatives from major cities (including Berlin, Brussels and Manchester) as well as voluntary bodies working on behalf of older people. The collaboration has strong support from a range of UK-based organizations concerned with older people, in particular AgeUK, the Beth Johnson Foundation, HelpAge International, and the International Longevity Centre. These organisations are especially keen to better understand the impact of urban change on older people together with effective ways of ameliorating associated problems. The network will play an especially important role in this regard in pointing to new ways of researching and developing age-friendly environments within cities.

In the UK, the work of the network will be disseminated through relevant government departments, especially the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Department of Health, and the Department for Communities and Local Government. The network will also work closely with Age Action Alliance (supported by the DWP) which brings together a wide group of organisations representing public, voluntary and private bodies. Age Action Alliance has a particular remit to develop a preventative, community-based approach to improving the quality of life of older people suffering from high levels of economic and social deprivation. Two of the co-investigators are members of a working group within Age Action Alliance focusing on the development of age-friendly cities.

A key aspiration of the IPNS will be to engage architecture and design professionals and students of architecture in network activities investigating the issues of age-inclusive urban design. Architectural and urban design professionals are both formal and informal partners to the network. The bid has been developed with the assistance of Leach Rose Walker (an internationally recognised architectural practice) with the practice Director Faheem Aftab acting as a supporter of the bid. The UK design council has recently taken over the remit of CABE to provide UK professionals with advice and support in developing inclusive designs and Mr Aftab is both a former member of the CABE inclusion by design panel and part of a group who are building these capacities under the new umbrella of the Design Council. Informal partners also include Buro Happold LLP Engineers and Urban Designers (an internationally recognised practice with in the UK and Germany.). In addition, through the auspices of the Manchester School of Architecture's joint agreement the Network will be supported by both the Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester Architectural Research Centre (MARC) enabling the network to access the facilities of both universities for development and dissemination.

Publications

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Vanderbeck (2014) Intergenerational Space

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/J019631/1 31/08/2012 31/10/2012 £25,069
ES/J019631/2 Transfer ES/J019631/1 01/11/2012 31/10/2014 £24,845
 
Description The findings have been used to inform the development of work at Manchester City Council on age-friendly issues. These have been developed further with the transfer of the grant to Manchester University/
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Manchester Ageing Hub 
Organisation Manchester City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Support for events and research collaborations with the Council. The Hub is now a sub-committee of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and with be stimulating research on issues relating to urban ageing across Greater Manchester. The Hub is now contributing to work developing Greater Manchester as an Age-Friendly Region, drawing on ideas and personnel linked with Population Ageing and Urbanisation Network. The Greater Manchester Ageing Conference was held in February 2017 to which the PI gave a plenary paper: 'Developing a Strategy for Age-Friendly Greater Manchester'. The report was based on a placement with Greater Manchester supported by an ESRC Impact Accelerator Award R120465.
Collaborator Contribution Joint research and public engagement activities
Impact Numerous conferences Publications (reported elsewhere) Joint research bids 'Developing a strategy for an age-friendly Greater Manchester: a placement with Greater Manchester Combined Authority'. Successful application for an ESRC Impact Accelerator Award'. Nov 1 2016 to Jan 31 2017 R120465.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Urban Ageing Network 
Organisation Beth Johnson Foundation
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Provided research support to the collaboration on recent work around the development of age-friendly cities
Collaborator Contribution Provides links to local authorities and other practitioners interested in age-friendly issues. The collaboration has brought together academics, policy-makers and older people concerned with improving securing more appropriate environments for people 'ageing in place'.
Impact Range of seminars and conferences listed on the collaboration website. A number of outputs have been generated by the collaboration, the most important of which are: Handler, S. (2014) A Research and Evaluation Framework for Age-friendly Cities UK Urban Ageing Consortium in association with Manchester City Council, Keel University, the Beth Johnson Foundation and the University of Manchester http://www.micra.manchester.ac.uk/research/population-ageing/research-activity/ Handler, S (2014) An Alternative Age-Friendly Handbook. The University of Manchester Library http://www.micra.manchester.ac.uk/research/population-ageing/research-activity/
Start Year 2012
 
Description Urban Ageing Network 
Organisation Keele University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provided research support to the collaboration on recent work around the development of age-friendly cities
Collaborator Contribution Provides links to local authorities and other practitioners interested in age-friendly issues. The collaboration has brought together academics, policy-makers and older people concerned with improving securing more appropriate environments for people 'ageing in place'.
Impact Range of seminars and conferences listed on the collaboration website. A number of outputs have been generated by the collaboration, the most important of which are: Handler, S. (2014) A Research and Evaluation Framework for Age-friendly Cities UK Urban Ageing Consortium in association with Manchester City Council, Keel University, the Beth Johnson Foundation and the University of Manchester http://www.micra.manchester.ac.uk/research/population-ageing/research-activity/ Handler, S (2014) An Alternative Age-Friendly Handbook. The University of Manchester Library http://www.micra.manchester.ac.uk/research/population-ageing/research-activity/
Start Year 2012
 
Description Urban Ageing Network 
Organisation Manchester City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Provided research support to the collaboration on recent work around the development of age-friendly cities
Collaborator Contribution Provides links to local authorities and other practitioners interested in age-friendly issues. The collaboration has brought together academics, policy-makers and older people concerned with improving securing more appropriate environments for people 'ageing in place'.
Impact Range of seminars and conferences listed on the collaboration website. A number of outputs have been generated by the collaboration, the most important of which are: Handler, S. (2014) A Research and Evaluation Framework for Age-friendly Cities UK Urban Ageing Consortium in association with Manchester City Council, Keel University, the Beth Johnson Foundation and the University of Manchester http://www.micra.manchester.ac.uk/research/population-ageing/research-activity/ Handler, S (2014) An Alternative Age-Friendly Handbook. The University of Manchester Library http://www.micra.manchester.ac.uk/research/population-ageing/research-activity/
Start Year 2012