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As the population ages, the demand for various products and services will change in the regions, along with other parts of New Zealand, the NZIER report on regional economies says.
There will be greater demand for services such as healthcare and aged care to be provided locally.
New Zealand Institute of Economic Research principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said the changes would be subtle. The type of retail and hospitality services demanded would be different as each generation tended to want different things.
The economic potential of the regions would also change, as the supply of labour declined because of increasing urbanisation. Young populations were shrinking in many of New Zealand's regions already, he said.
At the same time, ageing populations in rich economies would be crying out for labour, both skilled and unskilled, Mr Eaqub said.
There would be job opportunities for young New Zealanders not just here, but also in places such as Australia, Singapore, London and San Francisco.
Similarly, New Zealand would need to import labour to meet demand in some sectors.
''New Zealand will be competing for migrants to meet the demand for workers. Southland, which is ageing the fastest in New Zealand, is dealing with this by being more open to migrant workers from the Philippines.''
Ageing would have profoundly varied impacts across regions. Movement of older people had been towards Northland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Marlborough.