Advancing Innovation and Equity in Aging Societies




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Nov 19, 2015
by Salzburg Global Seminar
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Advancing Innovation and Equity in Aging Societies

Full text of the Salzburg Statement on Advancing Innovation and Equity in Aging Societies


The number of people today aged 60 and over has doubled since 1980, and the number of people aged 80 years will almost quadruple to 395 million between now and 2050. With statistics like this, it is unsurprising that aging is often stated to be one of the greatest challenges we will face in the coming decades – but the challenge we are facing is not population aging, but outdated and ineffective policies and practices.We, the participants at the Salzburg Global Seminar session Aging Societies: Advancing Innovation and Equity (November 1 to 5, 2015), came together from 23 countries to examine the global, regional, national, local, and individual-led strategies needed to tackle this unprecedented rapid population aging and the associated demographic trends such as globalization, migration and urbanization. We concluded that we need to better respond to the rights and needs of older people through a holistic approach: addressing the alignment of a person’s needs, health, informal and formal care systems with their and their communities’ physical and social environment.The views expressed in this Statement are those of session participants individually and should not be taken to represent those of any organizations with which they are affiliated.

Principles and Recommendations

We urge all stakeholders, across all sectors and disciplines – intergovernmental, international, regional, national, and local (including governments, health policy leaders, communities, development partners, non-governmental organizations, health care workers, and the private sector) – and individuals to:

  • Promote improvement in the quality of life for the world’s older people, to assure their independence, health, care, income security, and well-being now and for future generations;
  • Connect stakeholders and create networks to drive innovation and change toward sustainable and purposeful outcomes for future generations;
  • Recognize that the underlying principles of human rights, equity, accessibility and non-discrimination, and social cohesion between generations must be the foundation for the future; and
  • Incorporate the voice of older people into policymaking and action-taking processes, recognizing the importance of the belief: “nothing about us without us.”

We urge consideration of the following recommendations:

1.  Growth and Prosperity in Aging Societies

In a century where demographic trends will be a significant driver for diverse changes, there is the imperative to take a more holistic approach to aging. 

  • Support healthy longevity through a greater emphasis on healthy and active aging and aging-in-place (see section 2).
  • Adapt labor market policies, particularly regarding how we view productivity, to suit the changing psychographics of older workers, and offer lifelong continuing education and training opportunities in the workplace to enable older people to remain active and productive members of the workforce (see section 3).
  • Encourage new thinking to prioritize innovations in framing social protection and security for older persons, especially for those in developing countries.
  • Recognize the potential of the “silver market” for products and services beyond older people’s healthcare, and encourage older people-led entrepreneurship focusing on products and services that improve health and promote dignity and independence.
  • Create working relationships to overcome generational gaps between older people and younger generations.
  • Recognize that ethnicity and migration are factors that shape aging experiences and outcomes, and improve culturally-specific care initiatives by making greater efforts in research and adopting policies from countries where services for multicultural older people are well established.
  • Assure support systems for vulnerable older people.
  • Recognize the inherent value of economic growth as a means to address the financial and societal challenges presented by unprecedented demographic change.  
  • Recognize the significant value in terms of economic growth, job creation, lower health costs and higher quality of life that comes from engaging the entrepreneurial community to develop new products and services for this market. 
  • Work to develop greater intergenerational understanding and engagement to encourage younger entrepreneurs to focus their attentions on this important market, and work to overcome the barriers facing all entrepreneurs as they seek to scale their solutions to meet the growing global need. 

2.  Designing Sustainable Health and Care SystemsPopulation aging has enormous implications for how our current health and social care systems are designed, delivered and funded in order to promote wellbeing and engagement, delay disability, and provide high-value, sustainable person-centered care.                         

  • Recognize that older people are not a homogenous group and services and funding must be adapted to meet the needs of:
  • those who are relatively well and independent to remain active members of society for as long as possible;
  • those with chronic conditions who need some help with daily care, and the older old with complex illnesses and functional limitations;
  • and those facing the end of life.
  • Develop integrated models of health and social care in which services are coordinated around the needs of individuals and populations, addressing the many social determinants of health that impact health and well-being and health care costs and outcomes.
  • Establish a “culture of health” approach through which the health of the population guides public and private decision-making, and ensure inter-sectoral collaboration and media awareness.
  • Establish equity across geographic, demographic, and social sectors.  Services should embrace a rights-based rather than a needs-based approach.
  • Support and promote self-care and carers in the community by:
  • ending the disproportionate investment in acute, institutional care; and 
  • giving greater priority to self-managed care options through the use of both technological innovations and low-tech and high-touch solutions.
  • Improve the image of care, making it attractive to potential workers across age groups and genders, as well as potential investors and innovators.
  • Expand human resources for health care and training for elderly care across a broad spectrum of health care workers.

3.  The Future of Work and Markets

There remain significant obstacles to raising the productivity and labor force participation of older workers. Our workforce is poorly prepared to understand how aging, future finances, working options may impact future working opportunities, priorities and choices.

  • Recognize the value of older workers’ experiences.
  • Improve the measurement of productivity, especially of older workers, in order to adequately change working arrangements to accommodate them and keep them in the workplace.
  • End implicit bias against older workers and all forms of ageism in the workforce.
  • Encourage lifelong-learning to enable older workers to “upskill” and remain engaged in the workplace, and support the development of workforce networks that can enable people to ascend and reintegrate into their or other sectors and professions.
  • Adapt innovative strategies to encourage employers to engage and retain older people, promoting multigenerational and age-friendly workplaces.
  • Adopt employment policies that encourage “soft landings,” ensuring better transitions out of the workforce, enabling intergenerational skills and knowledge transfer, and maximizing the productivity of entering and exiting workers.

4.  The Future of Retirement

The longevity revolution has profound implications for pension systems globally. Our traditional approach of entering the retirement phase at an arbitrary age of 65 is outdated and contradictory to the increasing trends of individualization and longevity.

  • Establish alternative sources to maintain the pension systems of highly industrialized countries, e.g., a higher share of state funding based on taxes.
  • Encourage less rigid policies by providing opportunities for gradual retirement.
  • Encourage individuals to save more for retirement but remain aware of the unintended consequences of behavioral economics. It remains a challenge to secure adequate pension incomes.
  • Develop pay-as-you-go pension schemes to reduce exposure of financial assets to unpredictable capital market developments. 
  • Learn from the emerging markets which have installed non-contributory pensions to provide income security when that is most needed. Reviews of such policies have indicated that they are affordable and address the challenges of maintaining intergenerational solidarity. Older people cease to be burdens to their families – instead, they often provide the only source of regular income for the whole family and communities.

5.   The Future of Families and Communities

Support for families – in their broadest sense – remains a high priority for policymakers. The “care gap” needs to be addressed.

  • Adopt broader definitions of “family” that recognize the increasing diversity in the make-up of families (e.g., multigenerational families, geographically dispersed families, LGBT families, fractured and blended families as a result of divorce and remarriage).
  • Conduct and disseminate research on what conditions might make for positive and supportive family experiences i.e. for “age-friendly” families.
  • Recognize the diversity of care-givers within families, their roles and situations, and offer appropriately diverse support systems to improve their ability to provide care, reduce the risk of poverty, and continue their participation in the workforce. Such measures could include: flexible working conditions, tax incentives, subsidized services, training, etc.
  • Enable and promote social connectivity, encouraging intergenerational communities, and integrate communications and technology to support communities.
  • Train residents to care for older people in their communities, thereby creating employment, new models of funding, and community solidarity.
  • Adapt existing and plan for future livable “age-friendly” communities, keeping in mind culture and enabling broad participation in the design process.

6.  The Future of the Social Compact

New and innovative partnerships across sectors, government, business and communities are needed to ensure sustainable frameworks capable of meeting the challenges associated with population aging.All sectors and stakeholders should:

  • Recognize the population aging impacts on all levels of society, government and industry sectors.
  • Seek greater collaborations for solutions with other organizations in the aging sector.
  • Share resources and knowledge.

Governments should:

  • Assume responsibility for planning and implementing the strategic approaches to aging.
  • Abolish siloed approaches to aging policy, moving the portfolio from solely within health and welfare departments, and instead identify aging as a priority portfolio across departments, with co-ordination at the highest level.
  • Enable “innovative eco-systems” encouraging start-ups and social enterprises working on new technologies and solutions for ageing societies.
  • Develop innovative public-private partnership and financing models that articulate desired social objectives for adjusting to aging societies and engage the business community to develop innovative delivery services to meet these objectives.
  • Ensure that data is transparent and available to provide maximum information, capture externalities to ensure a fair market landscape and require an open and integrated approach to data, thus preventing silos.        

Business should:

  • Prioritize innovation and seek solutions that can be scaled up within either the private or public sectors.
  • Look across industry and geographic silos to find the most promising innovations, and develop models to collaborate more effectively with startup companies, as well as government and the NGO sector.  

Non-governmental organizations should:

  • Recognize and maximize their unique role in bridging the activities of government and business.
  • Develop, implement, and disseminate the creation of social innovation for aging population and a society of all ages.

Download the statement as a PDF
The Salzburg Statement of shared principles and recommendations is to be accompanied by a comprehensive report on the conversations and topics addressed at the Salzburg Global Seminar session Aging Societies: Advancing innovation and Equity, to be published in early 2016. The Salzburg Global session is part of the multi-year series Designing a Social Compact for the 21st Century. The session was hosted in partnership with Wirtschaftskammer Österreich and is sponsored by TIAA-CREF Financial Services and Tsao Foundation. More information on the session can be found here: For more information on Designing a Social Compact for the 21st Century, please visit: