The spatialities of ageing in Britain: is residential age segregation increasing?

Albert Sabater, University of St Andrews
Elspeth Graham, University of St Andrews
Nissa Finney, University of St Andrews

Ageing is a feature not just of individuals but also of many European societies, and it has implications for intergenerational social distance in different locales or communities. With the proportion of older adults expected to grow significantly over the next few decades in Europe, a number of pertinent questions are raised about the socio-spatial processes that underlie residential age segregation, especially in circumstances where it may be increasing. The aim of this paper is to investigate whether, and to what degree, residential age segregation is changing in Britain since the beginning of the millennium. To address our main research question –how residentially segregated are the old versus the young?, we examine general and urban/rural patterns of residence of older groups (50+ and 65+) compared to younger groups (aged 16-40) using population data from the 2001 and 2011 Censuses, and the latest urban/rural classification for Output Areas in England and Wales. The results reveal increasing segregation over time between older and younger groups, mostly as a result of greater unevenness between groups in post-retirement ages (65+) and groups in the middle-aged phase (30-35). The geographical separation between older and younger age groups is growing predominantly in urban settings such as major and minor conurbations and some urban cities/towns. Although the results also highlight an important socio-economic dimension of age segregation that is not felt uniformly but differs across urban/rural localities, the consequences of these trends of residential age segregation remain unclear. The findings aim to contribute to current debates about intergenerational relationships in contemporary Britain, and the multiple ways in which demographic change, residential immobility and the housing system interact at different scales to produce and promote the spatialities of ageing.

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Presented in Poster Session 3