, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 197–209 | Cite as

‘Ageing in place’: experiences of older adults in Amsterdam and Portland

  • Susanne Dobner
  • Sako MusterdEmail author
  • Joos Droogleever Fortuijn


This article addresses the importance and meanings of formal and informal social support relationships and neighbourhood ties for older adults ‘ageing in place’ in urban neighbourhoods in two different welfare state settings: Portland (Oregon, the United States) and Amsterdam (the Netherlands). The rising number of people growing old(er) in urban environments raises new demands and pressing challenges for urban development. The majority of older adults are and will be ageing in their homes and communities, as opposed to institutionalized care facilities and settings. At the same time, the provision of formal and public care is being increasingly challenged by government cutbacks. On top of this, the formerly strong welfare states in many European countries have weakened. In-depth interviews with 40 older adults and key informants in two neighbourhoods in each city provide the empirical basis for this study. In Portland, there are widespread local civic initiatives related to care provision for older adults. The city has a long tradition both of individual responsibility and community culture, which has emerged from and appears to compensate for the overall lack of state services and support. Amsterdam has a long tradition of state provision, but is experiencing a policy shift towards a stronger reliance on private market-led services, and an emphasis on family and community as providers of support. Although a few emerging local initiatives for elderly care in Amsterdam were identified, it is unclear whether this form of community support can compensate for decreasing state provision in Amsterdam. This study raises concerns about the future of care provision for older adults living in unsupportive urban neighbourhoods, without financial resources or nearby relatives.


Ageing in place Urban neighbourhoods Community care Welfare states 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanne Dobner
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sako Musterd
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joos Droogleever Fortuijn
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Centre for Social InnovationViennaAustria

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