OECD LEED: Demographic Change and Local Development

14. Nov. 2012

Recent research tours through affected areas

The OECD Programme for Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) is currently undertaking a study series on 'Demographic Change and Local
Development'. The first results were already published in 'Shrinkage, Regeneration and Social Dynamics (OECD, 2012; ISSN 2079-
4797, PDF
). Changes resulting from the almost global ageing of societies are screened with respect to the consequences they have on economic development,
labour markets and social structures on the local and the regional levels, respectively. Furthermore, current activities are carefully studied to identify options
for cities, communities and enterprises to cope with this development.

During the last weeks study trips took place to Japan, Poland, the Netherlands and Austria. ZSI was invited to provide expertise on the analysis and development
of new governance structures and participated in the OECD study visit to the regions hit hardest in the North and Southwest of the Netherlands (Drenthe,
Groningen, and Zeeland). Findings from a visit by OECD experts to the Territorial Pact Carinthia (TEP Carinthia, Austria) will also be incorporated in the study.

In the Netherlands both regional important employers (e.g. Dow Chemical Terneuzen) as well as social enterprises were visited, which already (have to) invest heavily in the employment of older workers to ensure sufficient numbers of well qualified personnel. Inter-regional and cross-border mobility as well as international migration were issues at the study visit, as were companies' internal and over-arching qualification strategies, health provision and flexible working time arrangements. The relation between job supply and attractive living areas was of specific interest given the strong role communities have in this respect. Also the question of 'partner-workplaces' becomes increasingly important, referring to the need of adequate job offers also for partners in case of migration.

The role universities have as centres of innovation was highlighted. In this context, ZSI expert Michael Förschner emphasised  in Groningen that ' is not only the creation and support of innovative centres like universities, which matters. Innovation has to be understood as holistic process, whereby techniques, economic and social issues, and ecology have to be viewed with respect to their inter-relation: Innovation builds essentially on the creation of a climate which allows for actors and areas to cross-fertilise each other. To materialise, innovation must be lived!"

Tags: demographic change, social change, social innovation