Ageing Populations A European Case Study

Ageing of the global population and increasing urbanisation mean that most of us will grow old in cities.  Around the world, more and more people are growing old in houses, streets and communities that do not provide for the particular needs of ageing populations. There is a timely opportunity to influence and to design urban environments and social structures to better respect and protect wellbeing into old age. Cities and urban environments, as the long-established places where people live, have the potential to offer insights into how to mitigate, adapt to and manage societal changes. So they have a fundamental role in helping to define how to respond to our ageing societies.

This study compared ten selected European cities (Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris), observing and comparing them through the lenses of: society, mobility, the built environment, and the digital environment. We compared trends and patterns in the case study cities, analysing them using thematic maps presenting data on ageing alongside other urban data, to help develop a basis for investigating the correlation between politics, planning and ageing.


Europe is already demographically aged.  Demographic trends and densities in European counties, regions, cities and even neighbourhoods differ significantly.  Each of the ten cities studies is experiencing a complex web of geographies, relations and processes.

A summary report of the research, entitled Shaping Ageing Cities: 10 European Case Studies, is available online at

The project team developed a methodology for studying trends relating to the ageing of the populations in European cities. The project generated an approach to understanding the factors and features (such as transportation, income, outdoor spaces and buildings design, social inclusion, information technology, health services) that can be applied by city governments, planners and city makers.

The methodology can be pursued on two different levels. It can be implemented in relation to a thematic topic (society, mobility, built and digital environment) and it can also be implemented in different geographic contexts at different scales (ranging from regional to local neighbourhood scales).

The knowledge and insights gained from this study can help city leaderships to tailor their cities to better serve older people.

The research can assist developers, contractors and investors to better define functionalities, building typologies, home dimensions to appeal to an important and, in many places, growing segment of the market.

This research can support city decision-makers, both public and private, to better adapt our cities to inexorable and ongoing demographic changes. This can help make our cities more inclusive and efficient, as well as fostering the wellbeing of their inhabitants.

Shaping Ageing Cities: 10 European Case Studies

ARUP, Help Age International, Intel, Systematica, 2015

In 2050, 70% of the world’s population is predicted to live in cities and the number of people aged 65 years and over is expected to triple to 2.1 billion, representing 22% of the entire population.

The report Shaping Ageing Cities: 10 Europe Case Studies developed by ARUP, HelpAge International, Intel and Systematica responds to these two key issues namely the unprecedented rate of population ageing and second the urban/rural population.

This comparative overview of the selected cities and urban environments has the potential to help us understand how to mitigate, adapt or manage societal changes such as our ageing population by examining the complexities that each city is experiencing.

Shaping Ageing Cities: 10 European Case Studies

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