The ‘silver economy’ is a term used to describe how the increasingly healthy and demographically significant +65 population could be of greater economic significance in the future.  Thinking about the silver economy could highlight considerable economic benefits and many governments and businesses are thinking about how to better engage with this increasingly significant demographic.  Working with our associates at Future Consult we did some analysis to help the Dutch Rijkswaterstaat better understand what the implications of an increasingly significant silver economy could be for Holland.

To do this we applied a form of topic modelling and expert mapping, that is sometimes referred to as ‘Context brokering’ today.  This post covers how this analysis was conducted, in a separate blog we’ve detailed the key findings from the analysis and the subsequent discussions it was used to facilitate.

Using context brokering to understand strategic trends.

To understand the silver economy and the benefits it could bring there is a considerable wealth of knowledge available around ageing generally.  Ageing and the silver economy relate to research in the fields of demographics, society, health, the economy and even as far as resources and infrastructure, so they are very complex, multi-disciplinary areas of study.  To conduct any analysis on this subject, we thought it best to reflect such complexity and design a basic data gathering method that bought in data from a wide variety of open sources reflecting the different sources of data.  So we based the way of gathering the data on the following process:

Doing this, we defined an initial search that returned 18 open reports detailing the silver economy, society, ageing and limited the geographical range to Holland, or Europe more generally.  After gathering this data as reports we then applied machine reading techniques to extract the most significant keywords for the combined string set of all the documents, doing so allowed us to sample the most frequently occurring key terms:

This data was then analysed further to look at the interconnections between the key terms and, a further level of analysis was conducted to ‘tag’ further terms and specific trends and ideas with the intention of labelling and discovering any interesting ‘outliers’ or signals for new and novel ideas for trends.

Doing this analysis allowed us to start to resolve the complex issue that the silver economy represents into a series of different topics, from the most discussed topics to the least.  This kind of information analysis (albeit from a small dataset) enabled us to generate a simple, ‘topic map’ to inform and guide further facilitated discussions with representatives from across the Dutch Government, Academia and Industry.  This approach, provided a clear context to start discussions around initial assumptions in real data and provides the earliest start point for evidence-based decision making.  The full dataset for the analysis is available here and the ‘rich picture’ produced using Gephi is available here.  For those wishing to engage with a dynamic data visualisation that illustrates trends and interconnections in the master data set, this is all provided in the gephi, rich-picture visualisation to access this data, please contact the team at info@simplexity.org.uk.  For those interested in the ‘top level’ strategic narrative around the data, please see the image below and the discussion of the specific trends and themes (and overall feedback on the technique) is available at the following blog post - The Silver Economy in Holland.

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