Alexandre Dalifard 18h00, 03 April 2023

While the France is in the middle of a debate on pension reform, one notion is increasingly talked about, the silver economy. Appearing in the early 2000s, it refers to all markets, activities and economic issues related to seniors. Also called the senior economy, it represents an important financial windfall.

In recent weeks, the France has been affected by a public debate that divides the population: pension reform. While this subject is at the heart of French discussions, one notion is taking an increasingly important place in the economic sector: the silver economy or the economy of seniors. This includes all goods and services created around the needs of seniors. Today, more than 50% of consumption is made by people over 50. If this economy is more attractive to companies and advertisers, it is explained by the aging of the population. Overall, in Europe, in 1950, 8% of the population was over 65 years old. Today there are more than 20% and tomorrow it will exceed 30%. Invited in Bienfait pour vous, Serge Guérin, sociologist expert in the challenges of aging and co-author of "The Silver Economy for Dummies", presents this economy to financial interests.

"Expand without saying it"

"Whatever the product, it should improve our lives. In everyday life, having a bottle that can open more easily is part of the silver economy. Even if it finally interests many other people, because it takes less time and it can be adapted to the disabled, it remains comfortable use and it allows to be more autonomous, longer, "details the sociologist at the microphone of Julia Vignali and Mélanie Gomez. "There is a second aspect that concerns more specific products for the elderly. For once, we are rather in old age, in personal services or in nursing homes, "adds Serge Guérin.

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The sivler economy is very attractive today and especially with advertisers who realize the financial windfall it represents. "In the debate on pensions, finally, those we do not talk about are pensioners. We will talk about them by saying the inactive. The term is quite violent," laments the sociologist. And yet, these retirees spend 23 million hours a week with their grandchildren. The same applies to associations where volunteers are very often seniors. Same situation at the level of small municipalities where 33% of mayors are retired.

Concretely, when a retail brand changes the packaging or marketing of a product to make it more attractive to seniors, it is part of the silver economy, even if the product originally is not intended for them. "There are more and more people getting older. It would still be silly to miss it. So we will improve the packaging a little to make it a little more visible, and finally, it will also interest young people. If I see it better, it is not worse. So at the end of the day, it's expanding without saying it," explains Serge Guérin.

Services are diversifying for seniors

If brands seem attracted by this silver economy, banks and the real estate sector are too. Before, from a certain age, it was no longer possible to borrow. Banks were frightened of age and were very careful who they issued a bank loan to. But the life expectancy observed in recent decades has gone through this. "When you're 50, there's almost half your life left to live. Around this age, people may have new projects. Some are considering moving to a new location. And all this therefore generates loans, "recognizes the sociologist.

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Similarly for real estate, services and offers are more and more numerous and diversify. Several options appear such as serviced residences, intergenerational housing or even shared housing for seniors such as the beguinage. "Generally, we want to stay at home until the end but when we are not well, it can be nursing homes. However, between the two, there are several solutions. The beguinage takes up an old habit of the good sisters which consisted of living among themselves with small houses nearby, "says the expert. "Next to it, there may be services. If there is a caregiver, instead of taking her car and travelling, she will be able to see her patients directly. And then there is a family for example who can stay overnight. So, if I have a concern, I also have someone who can come," concludes Serge Guérin. A convenient and cheaper service for everyone.