The End of the Age of Growth

As we operate around Auckland it is clear that the country has an unbalanced equation when it comes to the increase in our ageing population.

Last week Waikato University demographer Natalie Jackson's presentation about ageing to Local Government New Zealand's annual conference in Hamilton this week was a sobering look into the future that mayors, councillors and planners perhaps weren't expecting.

The biggest concern for those involved will be how to collect rates and pay for services for an ageing and often declining base of ratepayers for the length of their natural lives and beyond.

Already, more than a third of New Zealand's regional cities have experienced population declines since1996. Jackson explained how outside Auckland, all of the population growth that will come over the next 20 years will come from age groups over 65. That also means that these regions will see the size of their younger populations fall.

For residents of these shrinking towns and cities, the ageing of the population means it will be much harder to sell their houses for anything like they price they paid, or expect to receive.

In Canada there has been Government Assistance by relocating government departments to the regions. if such an idea can be implemented in New Zealand remains to be seen.
This debate will need to be set as a priority by our Government instead of just concentrating on being re-elected because as Ms Jackson states "We're all closer to the walking frame than the pram."


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