Journal of Comparative Urban Law and Policy


By 2030 more than one in four Americans will be 65 years of age or older. What role do city planning academics and practitioners play in planning for the inevitable and increasing aging of society? I examined original research and reviewed articles published in three major planning journals, reviewed the websites of ten Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) accredited planning programs, and evaluated the websites of the American Planning Association’s divisions and special interest groups to determine how each demonstrated or portrayed the value and importance of aging issues in planning scholarship, pedagogy, and practice. I found that these key pillars of the profession and discipline of planning give almost no attention to aging issues. I suggest that planners are fairly ignorant about older people and their needs, that there is substantial ageism and sexism in these discussions, and that planners face a conundrum because seniors often make important lifestyle decisions that defy a variety of planners’ sustainability objectives. These sweeping socio-demographic changes will not go away, however. Planners therefore must develop an arsenal of tools to help seniors safely and securely live in their communities, continuing to make valuable contributions to their family, friends, and community. If planners do not step up, the aging of society will likely overtake them and make much of what they do irrelevant.

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