POST - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

Creating age-friendly cities

Published Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This POSTnote examines how housing, outdoor spaces and transport can be made more age-friendly. It also highlights challenges for designing and delivering age-friendly cities.

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Proportion of population aged 65+

By 2050, 89% of the UK's population will live in cities and 24% will be aged over 65. Older people participate in society in many ways and are estimated to contribute between £40bn and £61bn a year to the UK economy. As the number of older people living in cities increases, there is growing recognition that cities need to become 'age-friendly' to help people remain independent and active as they age, and improve the quality of life and health of older people.

Key points in this POSTnote include:

  • The UK population is ageing and many older people are living in major towns and cities.
  • Age-friendly cities aim to support active and healthy living into older age. Twelve cities in the UK are members of a global network of age-friendly cities.
  • The physical environment plays a key role in making cities better places for older people. Research shows that accessibility and safety are important factors in making housing, outdoor spaces and transport more age-friendly.
  • There is a lack of robust evidence about the effectiveness of proposed interventions.
  • Challenges for delivering age-friendly cities include negative public attitudes towards older people, infrastructure costs and a lack of skills and coordination in local planning.

Acknowledgements

POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including:

  • Máire Cox, University of Edinburgh*
  • Catherine Foot, Centre for Ageing Better
  • David Sinclair, International Longevity Centre*
  • Claudia Wood, Demos
  • Paul McGarry, Manchester City Council
  • Damian Utton, Pozzoni Architects*
  • Chris Whitty, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Toby Williamson, Mental Health Foundation
  • Kellie Payne, Campaign to End Loneliness
  • Marcus Ormerod and Rita Newton, University of Salford*
  • Stephen Burke, United for All Ages
  • Jeremy Hughes and Emma Bould, Alzheimer's Society*
  • James Goodwin, Age UK*
  • Anthea Tinker, Kings College London*
  • Sarah Harper, Oxford Institute of Population Ageing*
  • Chris Phillipson, University of Manchester*
  • Nick Tyler, University College London*
  • Professor Phil Blythe, Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Transport*
  • Rebecca Jones, Government Office for Science*
  • Mehboob Umarji, Department for Communities and Local Government*

*Denotes people who acted as external reviewers of the briefing.

POSTnotes POST-PN-0539

Authors: Caroline Kenny; Joanna Hale

Topics: Housing, Older people, Railways, Roads

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The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.