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Last edited 10 Jan 2021
Demographics - how a changing population is transforming the built environment
In 2019, BSRIA launched a white paper on Megatrends: Demographics. Given that demographics look at the size, structure, movement and rates of change of human populations, this topic is likely to have an impact on almost all industries and disciplines, nowhere more so than for building services.
Numbers matter – which is why economists, commentators and lobbyists devote more attention to China and India than they do to, say, Chile or Ireland. Large-scale changes in population are also likely to have social, cultural, economic and political implications. Challenges raised by a growing population are very different to those faced by a shrinking one. Similarly, a country or region with an old or ageing population will have different needs to a predominantly young one.
 Consequences of population growth or decline for building services:
The most obvious direct impact of population growth or decline will be in the demand for buildings which directly serve the needs of that population. As well as housing, this includes health and education amenities and transport and utility infrastructure.
 Consequences of an ageing population for building services:
An ageing population is likely to affect building services in two ways:
- the supply side, which affects the types of people who are available to work in the building services industry and the type of work they can do.
- demand for different types of buildings and building services.
“The proportion of the UK’s population aged 65 and above has roughly doubled over the past 80 years and the share of people aged over 85 has risen even faster.
“BSRIA has been researching smart home solutions since 2010. It has found an increasing focus on solutions to help those who are elderly, in poor health or disabled to remain in their own home for longer. This can be anything from monitors and alarms to ‘companion’ robots.
- The past 130 years or so have seen a dramatic increase in the percentage of women employed in the workforce in most developed countries;
- Trends, such as the increasing enrolment of girls and women in education, have contributed to the “explosive growth” of universities, including in the UK, and
- While 50 years ago women constituted a minority of the then much smaller number of undergraduates, today they make up the majority.
 About this article
This article was provided by BSRIA – a non-profit distributing, member-based association, providing specialist services in construction and building services. It first appeared on its website in April 2019 and can be accessed here.
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