Older residents are contributing $2.5 billion a year to the Bay’s economy, with the amount expected to reach $7 billion by 2031.

The impact of the “silver economy” on the region’s economic wellbeing has been revealed in a report by SUPA-NZ researcher Carole Gordon of Tauranga.


Carole Gordon

Her report detailing the value of living longer has highlighted the growing importance that the over-50s were having on the city’s future, particularly the post-war baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964.

The report, the first of its kind, provided a platform for growing the silver economy in the Bay’s “super-ageing” districts.  Read the full report here. Silver Economy Report

Funded by the Western Bay councils through SmartGrowth, the report said Tauranga’s booming silver economy was projected to become bigger than the kiwifruit industry.

“This study reflects the reality of a new demographic era.”

Citing an international study, she said the days of easy growth in the world’s cities was over and the response to demographic shifts would influence their prosperity.

Indicators showed that people aged over 65 were expected to make up 73 per cent of all future population growth in the Western Bay of Plenty.

“There is an economic
imperative to optimise age-friendly environments because active ageing is vital for wellbeing and economic growth.”

Ms Gordon said Tauranga held 47 per cent of the Bay’s older people. The political discourse had to change from the now obsolete view of burgeoning costs of unproductive aged dependency.

“Increasing longevity is an unprecedented opportunity to optimise human capital and innovation.”

She said that many Bay people now lived in predominantly silver communities, with the Western Bay peppered with retirement villages. The proportions of older people were more than double the national average and already above Japan – the world’s oldest nation. Tauranga’s mature and older people was predicted to increase by 350 per cent to 2061.

Her financial conclusions used the framework applied to the Ministry of Social Development’s Business of Ageing report.

Greg Simmonds, the chief operating officer of economic development agency Priority One, said the silver economy report put the opportunities and challenges in a positive rather than negative way.

“It says there are massive opportunities.”

Mr Simmonds said it included retaining people in the labour market to avoid workforce shortages and to train others coming through. “They may not want to work full-time.”

Another area of growth was new products and services to meet the needs of the older demographic.

Tauranga and Western Bay Grey Power president Jennifer Custins welcomed the report. “I am one of the baby boomers.”

She said a lot of work was needed to make Tauranga an age-friendly city, ranging from big projects like access to the new civic amenities planned for the downtown, to little things like making sure parking meter instructions could be easily read by elderly.

“It goes from big things like accessing services to small things.”

A recent example was the new library at Greerton where the elderly and infirm returning heavy books now had to walk twice the distance from the Chadwick Rd carpark to access the main entrance.

“Examples like that make me nervous about what they will do with the inner city.”

Make-up of the $2.55 billion over-50s contribution to Bay economy in 2016
Consumer goods: $1.04 billion (2031- $3.34 billion)
Value of volunteer contribution: $0.8 billion (2031 – $1.78b)
Taxes paid: $0.37 billion (2031 – $0.88b)
Workforce incl self-employed: $0.34 billion (2031- $0.92b)

Median ages in the Western Bay, 2013
Tauranga: 40.1 years old (projected 51.5 years by 2033)
Western Bay District Council area: 45 years old
Katikati: 50 years old
Omokoroa: 53 years old