Across much of Europe, the populations of Member States are getting older; what this means for innovation in general is uncertain. Novel fields encompassing diverse services and products are emerging in response to the needs of new and enlarged groups of older consumers, whereas other sectors may suffer due to burdens on social care networks and productivity levels in organizations.
What is most evident following this review of literature, is that a population shift such as that projected for the EU will touch many areas of social and work life in ways that are not yet truly foreseeable. Innovation is a complex amalgam that often coalesces in unexpected places; certainly an ageing population will not necessarily be either a boon or drag on a state’s ability to create and market innovations. In this fluid context, policy work can hope to steer outcomes so that the demographic shift is mobilized for the benefit of Member States’ innovative capacity.
As Europe ages, it has the opportunity to become a world leader in creating societies that are good to grow old in; as the world ages, it will then be able to look to Europe as a role model for development of the skills, services, products and policies that enable age-integration at all levels of society. Policy formulation at the EU level must strive to ensure each Member State becomes a good place to grow old in.