Leading Edge / Winter 2014
Aging Cities

Global population of seniors will triple by 2050, creating challenges for urban planners, report says


Milan, Italy, is a grey city but this has nothing to do with the weather. One in four residents is over 65 – a situation that will occur in many Canadian cities and others around the world in coming decades as the global population ages.

A new report from U of T’s Global City Indicators Facility (GCIF) and Philips, the multinational Dutch company, estimates that between now and 2050, the number of seniors in the world will triple – a fact that has profound implications for urban planners worldwide. Cities will need more care facilities, certainly, but how will they also meet the surging demand for walkable neighbourhoods, affordable housing, accessible public transit and other needs of older people?

The GCIF is collecting data from 250 participating cities around the world to inform and guide city leaders as they deal with such challenges – and to help develop what the facility’s director, Prof. Patricia McCarney, calls an “age-friendly city policy.” As she notes, the challenges are even more complex in developing nations, which must also deal with poverty, and where the aging trend, surprisingly, is no less pronounced.


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