The Demographic change: Europe is ageing increasingly and faster
Population ageing is a long-term trend which began several decades ago in the EU as well as in the rest of the world. This ageing is visible in the development of the age structure of the population and is reflected in an increasing share of older persons and a declining share of working-age persons in the total population. In the past two decades, the share of the working-age population in the EU-27 increased by 0.3 percentage points, while the share of the older population increased by 3.7 percentage points; as a result, the top of the EU-27 age pyramid for 2010 became larger in comparison to 1990.
The growth in the relative share of older people may be explained by increased longevity. On the other hand, low levels of fertility have been maintained across most of the EU; this has resulted in a decreasing share of young people in the total population. This process, known as ‘ageing at the bottom’, is visible in the population pyramids through a reduction at the base of the age pyramids, as seen between 1990 and 2010.
The development of the median age of the EU-27 population also provides an illustration of population ageing. The median age increased from 35.2 years in 1990 to 40.9 years by 2010. Over the period from 1990 to 2010, the median age increased in all of the EU Member States, rising by at least six years in Slovenia, Portugal, Lithuania, Germany, Spain, Malta, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria.
Some figures about ageing:
- By 2020 around 25% of the EU population will be over 65;
- The number of people aged from 65 to 80 will rise by nearly 40% between 2010 and 2030;
- As from 2012, the European working-age population has started to shrink while the over-60 population has continued to increase by about two million people a year;
- The strongest pressure is expected during the period 2015-35 when the so-called baby-boom generation will enter retirement;
- The ratio between people at work and the remaining population is expected to become 2 to 1, compared to the current 4 to 1;
- 65-74 years old Europeans, together with people on low incomes, the less educated and the unemployed are largely represented within the 30% of Europeans that have never used the Internet.