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Demography - trends & projections

While Europeans are living longer than ever before, they are having fewer children. This means the proportion of retired and elderly people will rise over the next few decades, while the proportion of working-age people will fall.

By 2060, there will be just 2 workers for every person aged 65 or over - half today's figure. Despite immigration, the population of about half of EU countries is expected to shrink. Overall EU population will grow only slightly before peaking in 2050.


Changing fertility, life expectancy and migration will significantly alter the age structure of the EU population in the coming decades.

The population is projected to be slightly larger by 2060, but the average age will be much higher than now. EU population is expected to rise from 507 m in 2013 to 526 m by 2050 (a rise of nearly 5%). It will then fall to 523 m by 2060. However, there would be no such rise without the projected inward migration flows to the EU.

Large differences between EU countries are expected.


 Ageing report – Population projections in EU Member States

The demographic old-age dependency ratio (people aged 65 or above relative to those aged 15-64) is projected to rise from the current 28% to 50% in the EU as a whole by 2060. This means the EU would move from 4 working-age people for each person over 65 to about 2.

Labour force projections show a rise in overall participation rates that is particularly marked among the over-50s. This reflects the rising labour market participation of younger generations of women combined with the expected impact of pension reforms. The gender gap is projected to narrow substantially in the run-up to 2060.

Despite rising overall participation rates, projected population trends will reduce the labour supply. The total EU workforce (the 20-64 age group) is projected to stabilise between 2013 and 2023, falling by 8.2% between 2023 and 2060. This represents a fall of around 19 m.

Read more in the 2015 Ageing Report.