Europe is experiencing major demographic changes that will affect the whole society, now and even more in the future. The changes are due to the large increase in old people, by this term I mean the over 60’s. The census in 2001 showed that for the first time that there are more people over 60 than there are children. This is mainly a result from better health care meaning that people are living longer but usually means they are living in ill health for longer.
Fertility rates are at an unprecedented low, it fell to 1.48 in 2003 below the level needed to replace the population. Less people are having babies due to constraints on family’s choices like expensive housing, late access to employment, job instability and lack of incentives. Low fertility rates are also due to the large amount of old people who are unable to produce babies.
These are the figures we expect Europe will reach in 2020:
The proportion of people in the 16-49 age group will fall slightly
-The 50-64 age group will increase by almost 30%
-The 65-74 age group will increase by about 45%
-The 75-84 age group will increase by over 30%
-And those aged 85 or older will increase by almost 40%
Europe’s median ages are the highest of any other continent, this being because it probably has the best health care and most stable environment.
Consequences of this demographic change
European population aged 60-80
This graph shows the high increase of people aged 60- 80 1n 1960 to 2020. By 2020 the over 65’s will make up more than 20% of the total population, at the same time Europe’s wage and salary, earners, who must bear the rising costs of health care and social services, are a shrinking proportion of the population. Therefore the taxes must increase by a large amount because the number of people needing health care is increasing and the number of people working is decreasing.
The demographic changes have major implications for our future generation and also living standards since with a low fertility rate the chances of Europe’s economy growing are slim, because in order for a growth births are required.
Europe definitely needs an increase in children because with so many old people not working and claiming pensions the tax will have to go up.
I think the answer to increasing the younger generation is to offer more incentives to family’s, such as higher benefits and cheaper houses. This will mean people will be encouraged to have children, and so the rate of births will increase and Europe’s economy will have a chance to grow leaving brighter future for the next generation.
However with health care improving people can work for longer meaning they are retiring later, and so do not have to claim as much money on pensions, but we have to imagine ourselves in their situation, would we really be wanting to work when we are 75?