Making The Economic Case For Age-Friendly Communities

Aug 15, 2016

Cross-posted from The Huffington Post
By John Feather, PhD CEO, Grantmakers In Aging

Follow the money. That is my advice to anyone seeking support for livable and age-friendly communities — great places to grow up and grow old.

Age-friendly, livable, lifelong communities have much to offer. Walkability. Good transit and transportation. Affordable, accessible housing. Employment and volunteer opportunities at every age. Well-coordinated health and social services. More ability to age in place. More inclusion and intergenerational connection. People of almost any age value these things, which is one reason the movement is gaining momentum around the world.

How can we leverage that momentum and find significant, sustainable support for lifelong communities? When I speak about this on behalf of Grantmakers In Aging, I pose this hypothetical question:

Imagine you’re the mayor of a small town. The economy is slow, and you need to do something to improve the quality of life in your town. Luckily, you have an opportunity to bring in 1,000 new residents of your choosing. You can choose 1,000 40-year-olds, or 1,000 60-year-olds. Who will do more for your economy?

Ninety-nine mayors out of a hundred would say the 40-year-olds. Unfortunately for them (and their towns’ economies), it’s the wrong answer.

Continue reading on The Huffington Post.