20 June 2019
Ageing: an opportunity for the care and housing market
A cost to the public purse, yes. But an expanding market, too. When it comes to care and housing, the potential for increased demand is huge. Belgium is third in Europe.
In a nutshell
- The Netherlands, Spain and Belgium are the three countries with the potential for a stronger increase in demand for elderly care and housing.
- It is forecast that demand for elderly care and home help will potentially increase by 3.5% a year until 2030.
- Since 2006, EU residents aged 65 live in good health for an average of three months longer compared to the year before.
Increasing life expectancy and health problems
According to demographic forecasts, the proportion of people aged 75 and over in the European population is set to increase from 10% in 2015 to 17% in 2050, whilst the proportion of 85-year-olds is set to increase even faster, going from 3% to 6%. At the same time, life expectancy is still on the up and healthy life expectancy is increasing even more strongly: every year since 2006, EU residents aged 65 live in good health for an average of three months longer compared to the year before.
That said, health problems continue to increase with age. The prevalence of chronic diseases and other physical limitations is increasing within the population. Due to ageing, but also problems linked to lifestyle and improved health care: many previously fatal diseases have now become chronic ones instead.
Changing consumption habits
It’s a fact: European society is ageing. And domestic consumption habits reflect this more and more. In fact, elderly people spend a greater proportion of their income on housing, health products and services and food. They spend relatively less on leisure, education, clothing and transport. This trend is all the more powerful because the rise in costs related to ageing is putting pressure on State spending. This can mean budget cuts for the area of care and housing that it subsidises, forcing elderly households to spend more of their own resources on this type of service. Surveys show that European consumers consider spending on care and assistance in the home to be essential and irreducible.
On the other hand, income for elderly households is rising steadily in the EU. And this is mainly down to increased pension income resulting from the growing number of women in employment. The assets of elderly households are also increasing. Mainly in western Europe, where property represents a greater share of assets as a result of increased home ownership.
Demand for elderly care will increase by 3.5% a year
Demand for care and housing for the elderly is set to increase in Europe over the next few years.
- the percentage of elderly people in the population is on the increase
- pensioner income and wealth are rising
- the cost of adapted housing and care is a bigger proportion of elderly consumer spending.
For the eleven EU countries surveyed, representing 84% of EU households, it is forecast that demand for elderly care and home help will potentially increase by 3.5% a year until 2030 (based on the population of 75-year-olds plus and real GDP growth). It is estimated that the demand for housing for the elderly will potentially increase by 5.5% a year (based on an increase in the population of 75-year-olds, real GDP growth and changing housing preferences among the elderly).
Belgium one of the countries with the potential for a stronger increase in demand
The potential increase in demand for care, home help and adapted housing isn’t the same across all EU countries, of course. In actual fact, some countries should see a greater increase in the elderly population than others. And the increase in disposable income is not the same for all countries, either. Plus there are strong cultural differences on top of that. Where care, assistance in the home for the elderly and nursing homes are already widespread in Belgium and the Netherlands for example, the same cannot be said for other countries like Romania and Czech Republic.
Taking into account all of these factors, we can categorise European countries in terms of the potential increase in demand for care and housing for the elderly. This exercise allows us to conclude that the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium are the three countries with the potential for a stronger increase in demand and therefore represent an even bigger opportunity for providers of care and housing for the elderly.