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Ageing and welfare state policies

In the next few decades, the proportion of elderly people in EU countries is set to rise fast, while the proportion of working-age people will fall significantly. Although enabling people to live longer is a major achievement, ageing populations also present significant challenges to European economies and welfare systems. The demographic transition is viewed as one of the biggest challenges facing the EU.

Europe is getting older. Both the Commission and the European Council acknowledge that the impact of demographic ageing on European social models calls for a strong response.

2015 ageing report

See Demographic developments and projections for forecasts by country.

We need reliable, comparable information on future demographic changes in Europe. Future policymakers face economic, budgetary and social challenges. The projections show where, when and to what extent ageing pressures will accelerate as baby-boomers retire and the average lifespan continues to increase.

Age-related changes will have an impact on

  • pensions
  • long-term healthcare
  • education
  • unemployment transfers
  • various EU-level policy debates.

How projections are used

Projections are used in:

  • annual assessment of the sustainability of public finances under the Stability and Growth Pact
  • the Open Method of Coordination of pensions, healthcare and social inclusion
  • analysis on the impact of ageing populations on the labour market and potential growth.

DG ECFIN conducts economic analysis of these data to assess the potential effects of demographic change. It also gives national governments policy advice.

Publications on demographic ageing

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