Demographic ageing in Europe has raised concerns that an ageing population weakens the competitiveness of knowledge-based economies by diminishing the economy’s capacity to generate technological advances. Our research contributes to this debate by proposing an integrated approach that examines the effect of demographic ageing on both firm and regional innovativeness as well as the corresponding link. In a first step this project aims at studying the macro level impact of demographic ageing on regional innovativeness in order to assess the total effect of the regional demographic age structure that may result from a combination of (i) the innovative capability of the average resident, (ii) collective learning processes within firms, (iii) collective learning processes resulting from social interactions at the regional level and (iv) the impact of endogenous shifts in the industry mix that may reflect a reaction to changes in the demand for innovative products as well as changes in the location decisions of innovative firms. In a second step this project aims at examining the impact of the regional population age structure on firm innovativeness once the firm’s workforce structure and other relevant factors have been controlled for. By doing so, we will be able to tell to what extent innovation is driven by macro-level conditions including collective learning processes through social interactions at the regional level as well as the impact of changes in the demand for innovative products. Our analysis thus sheds light on the determinants of competitiveness in knowledge-based economies.

Selected Publications

Articles in Refereed Journals


Fritz Thyssen Stiftung , Köln , DE

Project duration

01.09.2011 - 31.12.2013