Impact of Demographic Change

The ageing population poses a major global economic, political and policy challenge.  It is vital that we understand the nature of economic and demographic change in order to maximise the economic benefits and minimise the costs.


Demographic change is a global issue.  In Europe, migration and the baby boomer generations moving into older age has implications for the structure and shape of the labour market.  This is already prompting policy changes in areas like retirement ages and the funding of long term care.

Demographic trends, especially an ageing population, create opportunities for business growth and economic activity.  These include new growth sectors such as those servicing the very old, and a market for personal services.

N8’s research programme focussed on the North of England.  It examined:­ 

  • The reciprocal relationships between economic and demographic change. ­
  •  How and why the geography of these changes varies within Northern England and its city regions. 
  •  The ways in which policy can maximise economic benefits and minimise costs.


The focus to date has been on national policy changes.  This research highlights the importance of Local Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships in the North developing policy responses to the challenges and opportunities arising from demographic change and economic trends in their localities.  It also makes a case for national policy directions to be more aware of sub-national impacts.


The research revealed: 

  • the North has a distinctive demography compared with the national picture;  
  • common aggregate trends across the North: population growth, ageing, and increasing diversity;
  • the scale and rate of demographic change varies - urban-rural, and core-periphery; 
  • considerable variation in economic and demographic interactions between individual places, local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnership areas; 
  • opportunities from demographic change:
  • mobilising people, investing in innovation, entrepreneurship, new market opportunities; and 
  • challenges, particularly the need to understanding the position in different areas, immigration and labour supply, risks of increasing inequality, impacts on social care and unpaid carers.


These include: 

  • unleash entrepreneurship in the population of the North, by maximising business growth among the over 50s; 
  • promote mobilisation of wealth to ensure that the wealth concentrated in the over 50s is deployed to maximise economic benefits in the North; 
  • exploit and incentivise the social capital embodied in the over 50s; 
  • support home ownership and adaptation as an economic driver; 
  • exploit new growth sectors for example via personalisation and sophisticated remote health monitoring systems; and 
  • develop new growth sectors servicing the very old with more specialist residential care.



Academic Director, Professor Ray Hudson