Place-contingent Capacities in Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population: Conceptualizing the Needs-capacities Relation in Non-metropolitan America

By Thomas A. Clark.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Almost 40 million persons living in the United States—of which nearly 60% is female—are 65 years and older. This number may rise to 55 million by 2020. Almost one in four in this older cohort lives today in the nation’s non-metropolitan reaches, some on the metropolitan fringe, others in isolated centers, and still others in more remote lower density rural counties. This paper explores in each such setting the measure of incongruence between the personal needs of an older aging population and the capacity of each class of place in addressing these needs. “Exit, voice” and “loyalty” are seen to represent three distinct avenues whereby older persons seek to attain an improved congruence between personal needs and place capacities. Whereas relocation (exit) is viable for some, most of the elderly are “stayers,” aging in place, and for these voice and loyalty are the sole options. Policy implications are briefly addressed.

Keywords: Ecology of Aging, Non-metropolitan America, Community Capacity, Alternate Life Trajectories, Local Policy Development, Needs-capacities Mismatches

Aging and Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.87-108. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 605.215KB).

Dr. Thomas A. Clark

Professor and Director, Center for Sustainable Urbanism, College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA

A specialist in regional economic development and urban/regional planning, Dr. Clark has served on the faculties of McGill, Middlebury, Rutgers and since 1982, the University of Colorado Denver where he has served in a variety of administrative and research capacities including Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Vice Chancellor. He is the author of five books and monographs and numerous articles in scholarly journals, has consulted widely, now oversees the work of doctoral students from throughout the world, and his recent work addresses community economic development, sustainable planning, energy policy, majority-minority communities in major metro areas of the USA, smart growth policy assessment, and planning implementation. He is now Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning and Policy Development at UC Denver.