In 2014, the Silver Dollar – Longevity Revolution Primer report provided an estimation of the size of the global Silver Economy, with a focus on the US economy. A recent report of Technopolis and Oxford Economics on the Silver Economy provides market figures and projections for the European Union. A short description of key findings and an infographic is available here.

How big is the EU Silver Economy?

The EU Silver Economy in 2015 is estimated at €3.7 trillion. Just over 10% of this total figure relates to public expenditure for the benefit of older people.  Taking into account population projections, the study estimates that the EU Silver Economy will increase by approximately 5% per year and will amount to €5.7 trillion in 2025.

What is the Silver economy and how does it relate to AAL?

As defined in the report, the “Silver Economy is the part of the general economy” and “the sum of all economic activity that serve the needs of people aged 50 and over, including the products and services they purchase directly and the further economic activity this spending generates”.  The Silver Economy stretches across all sectors of the economy, including health and nutrition, leisure and wellbeing, finance and transport, housing, education and employment, across the public and private sectors. The AAL market is also a key part of the Silver Economy.

The report provides an overview of ten business cases of potential solutions for older people. Four of these case studies are closely linked to current developments in the AAL market. The barriers and market failures and the challenges and added value of EU level action outlined in the report are well known. The recommendations provided in the report are intended to, amongst other, link and leverage (existing) initiatives, promote EU wide engagement, harmonise regulation and overcome funding gaps. The four case studies closely related to AAL are:

  • Robotics and games – develop the robotics market to help unburden the jobs of caregivers and assist the older and more frail population and integrate robotics with the gaming sector, to allow the 50+ to engage with robotics in a fun and interactive way;
  • Integrated care services and improved connectivity –integrate ICT solutions for healthcare monitoring in private homes that are user-friendly for older people, help overcome social isolation and improve efficiencies in the care sector;
  • Age-friendly built environment, including smart home solutions – innovate for new built and retro-fit home environments, with a view to empowering an ageing population to live more meaningful, independent, connected lives with dignity and autonomy;
  • Knowledge for an active and healthy lifestyle – develop tools/apps for data analytics that support a healthy and active lifestyle and underpin wearable technologies, functional foods, personalised nutrition and preventative medicine.

Who contributed to the report?

The study included an online ideation phase with the EU-wide stakeholder community including policy practitioners, academics, representatives from third-sector organisations, and private sector representatives. This ideation phase helped identify, categorise and prioritise the main determinants of opportunity areas for the Silver Economy. The community of stakeholders voted on ideas proposed and the study team developed ten case studies that showed most potential for helping to grow the Silver Economy. The result of this phase was presented at a validation workshop that was hosted by the European Commission in 2017.

Why is it being released now?

The report was commissioned by the European Commission and aims to capture the potential of the Silver Economy in Europe to provide a reference framework for the development of a Silver Economy strategy for Europe. The launch of the report was aligned with the announcement of the EU Silver Economy Awards on 3 May, 2018.

What is next?

Across the EU, member states have already implemented an array of policy initiatives in relation to the Silver Economy and an overview of existing policies is presented in the Annexes of the report. For example, a summary is provided on the national policy initiatives of Ireland and France and of the regional initiatives of Spain, Germany and Flanders that are related to the Silver Economy.

The report concludes with a call to policy makers to better coordinate across broader policy areas and between the EU, its member states and regions. A number of recommendations for future policy directions are proposed to help unlock the potential of the Silver Economy:

  1. Continue to support the concept of healthy ageing
  2. Continue to support the digital revolution in health and care
  3. Promote the active participation of older people in the labour market
  4. Continue to support innovation of products and services targeted towards independent living in age-friendly neighbourhoods and cities