Evaluation of the “Age-Friendly” city indicators in Mashhad by focusing on the social-cultural indices

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor, Political Geography, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Urban Management, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

3 MA in Urban Management, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran


Senility or aging as the last period of human life always was a focal point of scholars of humanities and biological researches. The world is rapidly aging in the recent years. With the growth of the cities, the older population of 65 years or older are increasing. Aging is not a disease but a critical phenomenon that involves everyone in the world. In fact, it is a natural course of physiological and psychological changes that occur in the body. Perhaps someone is looking old in the biological and physical condition while from the psychological aspects is young and fresh. Aging period normally starts when people reach age of 65 and above. Sometimes differences can be observed in the age criteria measures but it seems that the age of 65 is more suitable to consider it as the start of the aging period. Aging and its related issues are one of the most important components of welfare state in the recent years. The number of the elderly population has tripled in the last 50 years and in the next 50 years it will be tripled as well. Attention to older people and age friendly city in Iran as a developing country and also one of the members of the World Health Organization that in the near future will face an aging population is very important. Current status of Iran population in terms of structure is not aging. However, due to the decrease in birthrate, increasing advances in medical science and life expectancy, it seems that in the future it will experience this population structure. There is no exception for Mashhad as the second largest city in Iran. Mashhad as the second religious metropolis of Iran welcomes millions of pilgrims each year and from the perspective of spatial municipal divisions, it is divided into 13 districts. According to the general censusin November 2006, the number of people of 65 years old and over in Mashhad has been 4.49%. This percentage is roughly equivalent to the 108 thousand people of the total population. In the next general censusin November 2011, this reached 140 thousand. It is equivalent to 5.06% of total population. Ideal urban space is the place where civil justice is respected and people are provided with practical and administrative programs. Accordingly, in terms of understanding the physical and psychological needs of older people and how to resolve their needs should be considered especially in the field of urban planning and management.
This paper aims to evaluate the status of Mashhad by age-friendly City indicators with an emphasis on social, communicational, cultural- recreational and health-therapeutic indicators. The research method is applied descriptive–survey one.  First through documentary studies and by use of internal and external articles the concepts of sustainable development, healthy city, age friendly city and its related indicators are discussed according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The questionnaire used in this study is a standard one, based on WHO, the questionnaire is designed based on a Likert scale and included four major dimensions (social factors: 10 questions, communication indicators: 8 questions, cultural- entertainment indicators: 12 questions and health indicators: 7 questions) which were used to analyze the current situation of Mashhad to become age friendly city. To assess the hypothesis, firstly Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test was used in order to test the normality of the data and then T. test was employed to compare the mean scores. Given the scope of the research, in a field survey in Mashhad, the questionnaire was used to collect the data. The questionnaire was designed using the criteria proposed by the World Health Organization. Thus, its validity is confirmed. Chronbach’s Alpha coefficient was used to assess the reliability. This coefficient was 78% approval which is in an acceptable range. Population of the study included all residents aged 65 and older in Mashhad. The population of the study, elderly people in 65 years old and older in Mashhad, is categorized based on proportion of the zone population. In order to reduce the error and to generalize the results, it is tried to select at least half men and half women in each zone. This goal has been achieved up to 90%. To analysis the data, SPSS software was utilized.
Results and Discussion
The results of this study show that all the social, communicational and cultural- recreational indicators are in relatively good condition (although it is not ideal and the gap was observed with the ideal status). The results also indicate that Health-Therapeutic index is not in compliance with the standards. It indicates a gap with the ideal situation. The most important part is that according to elderly comments, Mashhad in some indicators has major weaknesses and shortcomings. In other words, none of the four indicators are in ideal condition and high mean score have not been observed in any of the indicators.
It can be concluded that Mashhad is not still ready to become an age-friendly city and still have a long way to achieve a standard situation based on WHO indicators. The efforts conducted in the city in order to build a green city should not be ignored. It can be said that due to endeavors and actions performed to beutify the city but in social-cultural indicators many changes require a long term planning and, therefore, needs more effort and investment which shows a necessity for long term action of all stakeholders. Some recommendations also suggested for improving the current situation. In fact, elderly people are part of the vulnerable citizens and if urban spaces are designed for older people, the positive results will be observed in the society as a whole.


Main Subjects

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