Regional Development

Sustainable Urban Development Policies in Ageing Societies




The elderly population in OECD countries grew more than 1.5 times faster than the total population between 1995 and 2008. In the European Union, the ratio of elderly to working-age people is currently around 20%, and may increase to 45-55% by 2050.

This ageing trend, nearly universal across OECD countries, has important implications for sustainable urban development - particularly as it coincides with another worldwide trend: urbanisation.


Ageing patterns in cities differ in speed and magnitude from those in other areas, and have distinct impacts. UN statistics indicate that in developed countries, 80% of older people live in urban areas.

Ageing is thus a significant factor in urban policy; at the same time, how urban infrastructure is planned and designed can have a major impact on the quality of life of an ageing population.




A forthcoming OECD report Sustainable Urban Development Policies in Ageing Societies (2015) will explore how cities can mitigate the challenges of an ageing society and become sustainable for all generations.

It will assess three policy questions:

  • What are “ageing societies” for cities? What impact do ageing societies have on sustainable urban development?

  • What can cities do to mitigate the challenges of an ageing population?

  • How can public and private actors, including national and local governments, work together to build sustainable cities for ageing societies?

The report will propose recommendations for practical policy tools, governance structures, financial methods, and indicators that can be used by city governments.