The Aging Population and the Competitiveness of Cities
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The Aging Population and the Competitiveness of Cities

Benefits to the Urban Economy

Peter Karl Kresl and Daniele Ietri

While much of the current literature on the economic consequences of an aging population focuses on the negative aspects, this enlightening book argues that seniors can bring significant benefits – such as vitality and competitiveness – to an urban economy.
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Chapter 5: Urban Economies in the US

Peter Karl Kresl and Daniele Ietri


The striking thing about US cities is the extent to which many of them – including almost all that are included in this study – have already become aware of the issues we are raising and have, in most cases, begun to act in appropriate manners. In all of the cities we have visited, residential construction is taking place in the city center, and seniors are recognized as being significant contributors to the financial health of cultural institutions and participants in educational activities. Each city has taken its individual approach to the issues, given their specific situations. Each differs in the strength of its cultural and educational institutions, but each is endowed with a set of musical, artistic, theatrical and dance venues that is attractive to the population cohort we are studying. Each has its own relation with its surrounding area and towns, and each has its own inventory of historic and cultural districts, housing stock, transportation infrastructure, governmental effectiveness and social structures. This rich variety of situations, and assets and liabilities gives us an excellent laboratory for ascertaining best practices with regard to capturing benefits from an aging population; it also suggests some of the difficulties that a city may have to overcome. In many of these cities the activities of seniors have had the impacts that we have suggested they would. Seniors have brought new life to city centers that may have been in a state of gradual decline. They are typically 70 percent or more of the financial supporters...

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