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Cushman on 2020: real estate not keeping pace with changing European demographics

The population aged 65+ has almost doubled in size over the last 40 years due to an increase in average lifespan, while the child population (0-14 years) has shrunk in relative size during the same period, according to data cited by Cushman. Within this, 55% of people now live in cities – a proportion expected to increase to two-thirds by 2050 – and single-person households are increasingly standard.

These trends are foreseen to continue, say Cushman, apart from the increase in the number of European citizens: The UN forecasts that, not only will the population of Europe peak in 2021, but it will continue to age. The proportion of the total population of those aged 65 years or above is projected to rise to 30% by 2100 whilst those aged 80 years or above will increase to 14%.

By 2030, projections indicate that London will join Moscow and Paris as the third European megacity with more than 10 million inhabitants. The trend in larger cities is only set to continue, with most major European cities set to grow further in size over the next decade.

The growing influx of people into cities will affect its infrastructure (public transport, public spaces, schools, hospitals) which has to evolve to face changing geo-demographics, says Cushman. In the short term, mobility will be a major threat. The advent of self-driving vehicles, improved public transport, e-scooters are all promised but the final impact on mobility remains unknown and seemingly always at ‘some’ point in the future.

Andrew Phipps Head of EMEA Research & Insight, at Cushman & Wakefield explains:

“Real estate is reacting to these changes by focusing on special senior housing complexes, luxury residential apartments, gated communities, and micro-apartment buildings for young people and business commuters. Retailers are attempting to make shopping more attractive for older people, while coworking, shared living and urban logistics spaces also hold out great opportunities.

“Developers and investors should also look to the development and regeneration of mixed-use schemes in dense urban centres – as well as adapting redundant assets (car parking, fuel stations, non-performing retail galleries) to new markets such as last mile logistics, click & collect, flexible office space and micro-living.

“The outcomes (so far) have been positive for both young and old. Benefits for the elderly included improved physical and mental health, while the children saw improvements to their language development, reading and social skills. There are further benefits in terms of tackling loneliness and isolation among the elderly residents.”

james.wallace@realassetmeda.com