The Silver Economy has caught the attention of policy makers and economic operators alike: the ageing population promises more economic growth and jobs. A new European Commission study, conducted by Technopolis and Oxford Economics, reminds us of this opportunity, explores its concrete economic potential and lays out steps how to capture it fully.
Next to being profitable for businesses, the Silver Economy should be connected to a positive and socially inclusive identity for older adults in Europe. According to the study, a supportive policy environment, with the right incentives and support measures will be key to facilitate this transition.
Intended to aid the Commission in its development of a European strategy, the study is also relevant to other policy makers in European member states and regions as well as industry decision makers.
One of the key actions recommended in the study, is the development of common standards for products and services in the Silver Economy and improvement of the interoperability of devices. The rationale behind this is that there is a lack of common standards for products and services in the Silver Economy and a lack of user-friendly design for older people. Universal design should involve older people and their carers more in the choice of design and architecture (user led design). The current lack of interoperability of e.g. smart home devices hinders the uptake of these products and associated services and reaching economies of scale.
EU wide action can help to create a common EU market for such solutions by setting standards, thus opening a wider market for national companies beyond their domestic markets. Beyond Europe, such a concerted effort could also increase the standing of Europe as an important player in this field, and establish a favourable market position against competitors from other countries, notably the US and Japan, which would be unlikely to be achieved by national initiatives only.