Publications

- December 1, 2021: Vol. 13, Number 11

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Cities for 100-year-old people: What ageing populations mean for the built environment

by David Faulkner

We know the future brings a growing cohort of people over age 65. If you want to see what that might mean for the built environment, turn your eyes to Japan, the regional — and global — role model in adapting to an ageing population. Japan’s lead is partly due to demographics. The proportion of the population over age 65 in Japan is already 25 percent. Singapore won’t reach Japan’s level until 2030. Hong Kong won’t get there until about 2040.

But it is also the culture. Japanese people in their 70s and 80s expect to play a major role in society and are encouraged to do so. For that reason, the challenge in Japan is not principally about healthcare and disabilities. It is about choice and opportunities — unleashing the potential of a group of individuals who want to stay active.

Japan’s over-65s are a far-from-homogenous group. They don’t all want the same things. They certainly don’t want to be pigeonholed into stereotypical activities for older peo

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