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The Gray New Deal: Rethinking Age-Friendliness from A Neo-Institutionalist Perspective

Authors: Carlo Chan*, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Social Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: age-friendliness ,aging ,health geography, qualitative, neo-institutionalism, collaborative planning, community planning
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

As the global population is continuously aging, cities and communities around the world are striving to create a healthier and better environment for people to grow older. Age-friendliness has hence become an increasingly significant concept worldwide, particularly after the WHO published the Global Age-friendly City: A Guide in 2007. This provides a set of guidelines for communities and neighborhoods across the globe to make their environment more age-friendly for older people. The key question is how well this guideline has been applied in different political, social and cultural contexts. This paper attempts to look into this question from a neo-institutionalist perspective, i.e., through the examination of both the interplay among different actors behind the age-friendly policy agenda, as well as the negotiation between communities and local authorities in meeting their needs. These actors include policymakers, local authorities, scholars, street-level bureaucrats and older adults, and each one of them plays a role in shaping the local age-friendly policy and practices. This study adopted a qualitative case study approach, which is in the form of in-depth interviews, field observation, participatory observation and document analysis. The preliminary finding shows that there is no one-size-fits-all model for age-friendliness, and that flexibility is mostly welcomed in the age-friendly policy implementation, depending on contexts. This paper concludes that age-friendliness is a loose concept that should constantly be rethought, redefined and reinterpreted.

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