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Planning for an ageing population : experiences from local areas in the United Kingdom

Planung für eine alternde Bevölkerung: Erfahrungen aus Gemeinden im Vereinigten Königreich

Meyer, Christine

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Corporate Editor Leibniz-Institut für ökologische Raumentwicklung e.V.
Abstract The majority of local areas in the UK are faced with an ageing population. Popular retirement destinations in coastal and more rural areas are particularly affected. The thesis aims to find out how local areas strategically tackle these demographic shifts. The British government has issued strategic guidance for local areas, but as yet little is known about how actual responses look. The literature has largely focused on good practice compilations. Consequently, the thesis attempts to analyse in depth local areas’ experiences in planning for an ageing population. The main research question is: How do local actors in the UK plan for population ageing? A grounded theory approach has been chosen to develop theoretical concepts from empirical data. Local governance and collective learning are used as sensitising concepts, i.e. wider theoretical perspectives. Due to the state of research and the aim to gather detailed knowledge regarding the planning for an ageing population in local areas, a qualitative research design has been chosen. More precisely, it is a multiple case study design, covering the three heterogeneous cases North Tyneside, Poole and Wealden. Empirical data has been assembled from qualitative interviews with local experts and documents such as local strategies or minutes of meetings. The results are threefold. Firstly, local governance arrangements are analysed. This covers the identification of involved actors, their action orientations and interactions. As approaches in planning for an ageing population differ across organisations, a typology of individual actors is developed. Moreover, it is observed that and analysed how traditional hierarchical steering by public bodies is complemented by more network-like forms of governance, for example multi-organisational older people’s partnerships. Secondly, local learning processes in planning for an ageing population are reconstructed. Four phases are differentiated: setting the agenda for the topic of ageing and older people followed by building up knowledge on the subject and collective learning in a narrower sense and, finally, strategy-making. Interrelations between governance arrangements and collective learning are analysed, particularly with respect to different forms of learning in different types of older people’s partnerships. Finally, central challenges and perspectives arising from the analysis of governance arrangements and learning processes are discussed. On the one hand, these pertain to the cross-cutting nature of ageing, on the other hand they are due to the ambivalent influence from national government on local areas. Ageing affects various spheres of local steering activity. Among the main implications for local areas in the UK are the continuous search for responsibility and the struggle to broaden the agenda beyond health and care. This has led to experimenting with governance structures, intensifying involvement of older people and developing inter-agency older people strategies and others as catalysts for further development. The strong influence from central government on local steering advances local reactions to ageing but provokes superficial and unsustainable answers at the same time. Overall, the thesis provides in-depth empirical knowledge on local planning for an ageing population. The theoretical lenses local governance and collective learning have been used to generalise from the practical experiences in the three case study areas. The thesis concludes with recommendations for practitioners locally and at the national level. These refer inter alia to local governance arrangements which come up to the issue’s cross-cuttingness and to national guidance and regulation which could facilitate their introduction or modification.
Keywords population development; aging; demographic aging; governance; urban development; urban planning; local planning; Great Britain
Classification Population Studies, Sociology of Population; Area Development Planning, Regional Research
Method empirical; qualitative empirical
Free Keywords demographischer Wandel
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
Publisher Rhombos-Verl.
City Berlin
Page/Pages 259 p.
Series IÖR Schriften, 56
ISBN 978-3-941216-66-2
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works