Inderscience Publishers

Analysing the impact of demographic development on sustainability via infrastructure networks

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Within the next decades unprecedented demographic changes (ageing and population decrease) will impact on most developed and with delay developing nations. The resulting changes in age structure and geographical distribution are expected to cause substantial adjustments. We present an analysis to test the simple demographic sustainability hypothesis that this development will improve sustainability of economic activities. For this purpose implicit adjustments of infrastructure networks to demographic changes are derived by linked demographic, economic and technical models. The results suggest that economic growth dominates contractive trends. Therefore, the hypothesis is rejected. Furthermore, the findings reveal a strong spatial heterogeneity of adjustment necessities due to migration patterns. Thus, the explicit consideration of the spatial dimension of demographic changes will foster the reliability of analyses of the consequences of demographic changes. Nevertheless spatial heterogeneity poses a serious challenge to the definition of sustainability.

Keywords: sustainability, demographic change, infrastructure networks, bottom–up models, top–down models, input–output models, OLG–models, demographic projection, travel activity patterns, simulation, energy systems, spatial heterogeneity, demographics, sustainable development, migration patterns, ageing, population, economic growth

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