COURAGE in Europe was a 3-year project involving 12 partners from four European countries and the World Health Organization. It was inspired by the pressing need to integrate international studies on disability and ageing in light of an innovative perspective based on a validated data-collection protocol. COURAGE in Europe Project collected data on the determinants of health and disability in an ageing population, with specific tools for the evaluation of the role of the built environment and social networks on health, disability, quality of life and well-being. The main survey was conducted by partners in Finland, Poland and Spain where the survey has been administered to a sample of 10,800 persons, which was completed in March 2012. The newly developed and validated COURAGE Protocol for Ageing Studies has proven to be a valid tool for collecting comparable data in ageing population, and the COURAGE in Europe Project has created valid and reliable scientific evidence, demonstrating cross-country comparability, for disability and ageing research and policy development. It is therefore recommended that future studies exploring determinants of health and disability in ageing use the COURAGE-derived methodology.
Key practitioner message: COURAGE in Europe Project collected data on the determinants of health and disability in an ageing population, with specific tools for the evaluation of the role of built environment and social networks on health, disability quality of life and well-being. The COURAGE Protocol for Ageing Studies has proven to be a valid tool for collecting comparable data in the ageing population. The COURAGE in Europe Consortium recommends that future studies exploring determinants of health and disability in ageing use COURAGE-derived methodology.
Europe is headed down the same demographic path. Some countries in Western Europe have populations that are older than the U.S., notably Germany, Italy, France and Spain. Countries in Eastern Europe are even further along and, within a few years, many of their populations are projected to begin shrinking.
Higher fertility and more international migration have helped stave off an aging population and the country has remained younger as a result. But those trends are changing. Americans are having fewer children and the baby boom of the 1950s and 1960s has yet to be repeated. Fewer babies, coupled with longer life expectancy equals a country that ages faster.
A smart city goes beyond the use of digital technologies for better resource use and less emissions. It means smarter urban transport networks, upgraded water supply and waste disposal facilities and more efficient ways to light and heat buildings. It also means a more interactive and responsive city administration, safer public spaces and meeting the needs of an ageing population.
Across countries, for 11 EU-27 Member States and all four EFTA countries it is projected that the population size will be higher in 2100 compared with 2019, with net migration being the main contributor to the population growth (see Table 1).
Over the next eight decades, the median age of the EU-27 total population is likely to increase by 5.1 years, from 43.7 years in 2019 to 48.8 years in 2100. The median age, which divides the population into a younger and an older half, is projected to increase for both men and women, with the gender gap narrowed by 0.6 years: from 3.0 years in 2019 to 2.4 years in 2100. Median ages are projected to increase by +5.5 years for men (from 41.8 years in 2019 to 47.3 years in 2100) and by +4.9 years for women (from 44.8 years in 2019 to 49.7 years in 2100).
Figure 3 provides a graphical presentation of changes in the EU-27 population between 2019 and 2100 by superimposing two population pyramids. Each pyramid shows the distribution of the population by sex and by five-year age group, with bars corresponding to the share of the given sex and age group in the total population; the sex and age structure of a population determines the ultimate shape of each population pyramid. The differences between these pyramids highlight the projected developments to take place in the structure of the EU population between 2019 and 2100:
Figure 5 presents the projected changes to the populations of the EU Member States during the period 2019 to 2100, with an increase in the number of inhabitants foreseen for 11 Member States, as well as for all four EFTA countries. Population numbers are predicted to rise by more than 25.0 % in five countries: Malta (with an increase by 39.7 %), Ireland (up 34.8 %), Sweden (up 33.5 %), Cyprus (up 27.7 %) and Luxembourg (up 27.3 %). The rapid population increase in Malta is largely due to the assumption that relatively high levels of net inward migration observed during the last decade will continue over the coming years. Lower increases by less than 10 % are projected in six countries: Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Germany.
By 2100, all of the EU Member States will have aged compared with 2019, although the pace of change will vary considerably. These differences are reflected in the projected changes for median ages and age dependency ratios. This pattern of population ageing is already being experienced in some Member States and is projected to continue and, in some cases, develop at an even faster pace, with a growing number of persons becoming dependent on the working-age population. As a result, population ageing will likely have a considerable impact on public expenditure plans, for example, in relation to pensions, healthcare and long-term care costs.
Figure 6 shows that during the period 2019 to 2100, the median age of the EU-27 population is projected to increase by 5.1 years to reach 48.8 years in 2100. For all 31 European countries, the median ages are projected to increase from 2019 to 2100. Malta, Poland and Luxembourg are the only EU Member States projected to see their median ages rise by more than 10 years (increases of 11.4 years, 10.5 years and 10.1 years respectively). The smallest increase is likely to be in Germany, where the median age of the population is projected to increase by just 1.4 years, from 46.0 years in 2019 to 47.4 years by 2100. Cyprus is projected to have the youngest population in 2100, with a median age of 46.6 years followed closely by Sweden (46.9 years).
Francesco, an Italian citizen, works in Bruegel as a Research Assistant in the innovation and competition area, with a focus on trade and productivity, as well. Before joining Bruegel, Francesco was a trainee at the European Central Bank, working on projects related to productivity, Global Value Chains and technology diffusion, export intensity, and credit allocation, as well as on macroeconomic projections. He also interned at the European Commission, Directorate General for Competition, involved in projects related to the Directive on Antitrust Damages Action, and provided teaching assistance at the Tinbergen Institute.
Over the last 50 years, the populations of most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have been aging steadily. An increase in life expectancy coupled with a decline in birth rates is expected to continue in the coming decades. As the proportion of the elderly population in the region increases, so too will demands for healthcare services and pension collections, as well as the number of people leaving the workforce. An aging population is often the sign of a healthy society, but countries can and should prepare for the upcoming reality of a significant demographic shift by adapting age-friendly digital solutions to help mitigate these effects and better care for the elderly. If countries start preparing now rather than waiting until they are facing an aging bulge in 30 years, they will be able to effectively manage the ensuing shifts in societal and economic demands and avoid many problems.
There will also be a greater demand for government support for the older population, particularly regarding insurance coverage and pension payouts. As the dependent population (individuals over 65 and minors under 15) grows larger and the working-age population (individuals between the ages of 15 and 64) shrinks in the coming decades, there will be an imbalance between pension payouts and those who contribute to those funds. Latin American and Caribbean countries spend about 4.3 percent of their GDP on pensions, and if governments do not sufficiently budget for an expected rise in cost, they will encounter significant fiscal difficulties. Additionally, if governments do not have the resources to support the elderly, an even greater portion of the population could fall into poverty or become vulnerable to it. Modernizing and reforming pension systems in the region will require digital transformation, which could also help older adults better plan for retirement and interact with their retirement savings.
The demographic shift produced by aging will also impact the workforce. As older employees leave the workplace, they take with them institutional knowledge and best practices that the younger generation may not yet know. Aging societies also tend to experience smaller workforces, making it difficult for companies and organizations to fill the gaps left behind as older employees retire. As of 2020, the percentage of the population between the ages of 15 and 64 has reached its peak since 1970 and is projected to begin trending downward by 2025. As the workforce shrinks, there is a unique opportunity for older and younger generations to work together to find innovative solutions to fill the gaps in personnel through technology and employee training, among other solutions.
Along with a shrinking working-age population, countries are facing an increasing push toward workforce automation to replace older employees who are leaving the workforce. Many sectors, particularly in the formal economy, can benefit from automated procedures rather than rely on human capital, which further reduces the need for in-person jobs. However, increased automation can lead to increased unemployment levels, furthering economic instability and expanding vulnerability to poverty. Additionally, though robotics are able to replace certain workplace functions, they sometimes provide imperfect solutions that do not match the level of human productivity or are not able to do certain jobs. Furthermore, the automation of jobs in the informal sector is nearly impossible, meaning that countries will continue to rely on informal workers even as the working-age population decreases. As donors design and develop digital solutions, they must keep in mind the vast difference between formal and informal economies and their workers. 59ce067264