Silver Economy: A Mapping of Actors and Trends in Latin America and the Caribbean

Accesible PDF image
Jiménez, Catalina;
Requejo, Julen;
Foces, Miguel
Apr 2021
Latin America and the Caribbean, unlike other regions, is still quite young demographically: people over age 60 make up around 11% of the total population. However, the region is expected to experience the fastest rate of population aging in the world over the coming decades.
This projected growth of the elderly population raises challenges related to pensions, health, and long-term care. At the same time, it opens up numerous business opportunities in different sectorshousing, tourism, care, and transportation, for examplethat could generate millions of new jobs. These opportunities are termed the “silver economy,” which has the potential to be one of the drivers of post-pandemic economic recovery. Importantly, women play key roles in many areas of this market, as noted in the first report published by the IDB on this subject (Okumura et al., 2020).
This report maps the actors whose products or services are intended for older people and examines silver economy trends in the region by sector: health, long-term care, finance, housing, transportation, job market, education, entertainment, and digitization. The mapping identified 245 actors whose products or services are intended for older people, and it yielded three main findings. The first is that the majority of the actors (40%) operate in the health and care sectors. The prevalence of these sectors could be due to the fact that they are made up of many small players, and it could also suggest a still limited role of older people in active consumption, investment, and the job market in the region. The second finding is that 90% of the silver economy actors identified by the study operate exclusively in their countries of origin, and that Mexico has the most actors (47), followed by the Southern Cone countriesBrazil, Chile, and Argentinawhich have the regions highest rates of population aging. The third finding is that private investment dominates the silver economy ecosystem, as nearly 3 out of every 4 actors offering services to the elderly population are for-profit enterprises.
The sectors and markets of the silver economy differ in size and degree of maturity. For example, the long-term care sector, which includes residential care settings, is the oldest and has the largest number of actors, while sectors like digital, home automation, and cohousing are still emerging. Across all sectors, however, there are innovative initiatives that hold great potential for growth. This report examines the main development trends of the silver economy in the region and presents examples of initiatives that are already underway.
The health sector has a wealth of initiatives designed to make managing chronic diseases easier and to prevent and reduce the impact of functional limitations through practices that encourage active aging. In the area of long term careone of the most powerful drivers of job creationinitiatives to train human resources and offer home care services are flourishing. The financial sector is beginning to meet a wide range of demands from older people by offering unique services such as remittances or property management, in addition to more traditional pensions, savings, and investment services.
The housing sector is adapting rapidly to the changes resulting from population aging. This shift can be seen, for example, in developments in the area of cohousing or collaborative housing, and in the rise of smart homes, which are emerging as potential solutions. In the area of transportation, specific solutions are being developed to meet the unique mobility needs of older people, whose economic and social participation is on the rise. The job market offers older people opportunities to continue contributing to society, either by sharing their experience or by earning income. The education sector is developing solutions that promote active aging and the ongoing participation of older people in the regions economic and social life. Entertainment services for older people are expanding, with the emergence of multiple online services. Lastly, digitization is a cross-cutting and fundamental challenge for the silver economy, and various initiatives in the region that directly address this issue were identified. Additionally, in several sectors we identified actors with a clear focus on gender, and these primarily provide support to women.
Of a total of 245 actors identified by the mapping exercise, we take a closer look at 11 different stories of the development of the silver economy in the region. The featured organizations are RAFAM Internacional (Argentina), TeleDx (Chile), Bonanza Asistencia (Costa Rica), NudaProp (Uruguay), Contraticos (Costa Rica), Maturi (Brazil), Someone Somewhere (Mexico), CONAPE (Dominican Republic), Fundación Saldarriaga Concha (Colombia), Plan Ibirapitá (Uruguay), and Canitas (Mexico). These organizations were chosen based on criteria such as how innovative their business models are, the current size and growth potential of their initiatives, and their impact on society.
This study is a first step towards mapping the silver economy in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the hope is to broaden the scope of this mapping exercise through future research and through the creation of a community of actors to promote the regional integration of initiatives in this field.