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Socially excluded through spatial planning The case of older people in Belgium

Authors: Pascal De Decker*, KU Leuven
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Rural Geography, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: aging, social exclusion, exclusion through spatial arrangements
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Most discussions on ageing fail to consider that people do not age in a spatial vacuum. They all age somewhere, and the place of ageing has impacts (Krout & Hash, 2015). When people age, their health can decline, limiting their personal mobility. This means that the dwelling and its immediate environment gain importance. However, everyday activities and services, like shops, banks, medical care, religious services or volunteer work, are not always situated in this immediate environment. Often, older people live in car-dependent regions, with none of these (daily) activities or services at walking distance. This is all the more relevant since Belgium, where the research of this paper is situated, has created ‘a fully blooded spatial chaos’, , implying that older people have to drive a car to reach ‘everything’. Because of those spatial aspects, in combination with a majority of older people staying put – which is also being encouraged by policy makers -, a large number of the now ageing baby boomers will remain deprived of numerous activities. This involves the (non)participation in social activities, the limited contact with people in the immediate environment or the inability to reach basic services.

This paper will, firstly, using data from survey as well as qualitative research, show the socially excluding consequences of Belgium’s spatial order. The paper will, secondly, deal with the consequences of a spatial planning that lacks long-term perspectives, leaving older people to their own devices.

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