Responding to change: An investigation into the processes of rural place-making in the face of ageing

The number of people aged 60 and over worldwide will double from 11 percent of the global population in 2006 to 22 percent by 2050 (WHO, 2007). This demographic shift cannot be understood as simply more older people whose values and needs are well known. Nor is the challenge simply one of scale and potential pressure on existing models of health and welfare. The big issue is that the current generation of retirees – the baby boomers (in the Japanese context, the dankai generation born in 1947-1949 and in the UK context, the first baby boomer cohort) are a generation who have been at the forefront of radical social, economic and political change. The adjustments they choose to make in response to retirement and to their own physical change will have profound consequences for each society from the planning and provision of facilities, to understanding the role and value of older people.

The overall aims of the project are:

  • To explore the transformatory experience of baby boomers, including  the aspirations they have when moving to rural areas, the resources that they bring to those places, and the impacts of their social integration (or lack of it) on the rural places to which they move;
  • To explore leaders and agents seeking to shape (or restrain) this movement;
  • To assess the implications of retirement rural migration for local identity-building and place-making.

Based on previous research this study conducts empirical analysis of the transformatory experience of older in-migrants in the selected rural localities in Japan (Hokkaido) and UK (the North East of England).The international project builds on existing links between researchers in Newcastle University and Hokkaido University and Waseda University in Japan.

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Project funder:The Great Britain SASAKAWA Foundation, The Community Study Foundation, Japan.

Staff involved: Kayo Murakami, Jane Atterton, Rose Gilroy and Philip Lowe

Project duration: 1 year (2008-2009)