Theme 4: Demographic changes Theme 4: Demographic changes

The Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) identifies social inclusion, demography and migration as one of the EU's key economic and social challenges.

The strategy sets out the objective of creating a socially inclusive society by taking into account solidarity between and within generations and to secure and increase the quality of life of citizens as a precondition for lasting individual well-being.

Headline indicator Operational indicators Explanatory indicators

Employment rate of older workers  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)
Healthy life years and life expectancy at age 65, by sex  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Crude rate of total population change  Table, Graph and Map  
Explanatory text (Metadata)
Total fertility rate  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Crude rate of net migration plus adjustment Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)
Old-age income adequacy
Aggregate replacement ratio  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)
Public finance sustainability
General government gross debt  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata) Duration of working life  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)
Contextual indicators

Old-age dependency ratio (for sub-theme demography)  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Projected old age dependency ratio (for sub-theme demography  Table, Graph and Map

Population projections (for sub-theme demography)  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Pension expenditure projections (baseline scenario) (for sub-theme public finance sustainability)  Table, Graph and Map

Expenditure on care for the elderly (for sub-theme public finance sustainability)  Table, Graph and Map


Key trends (2015 monitoring)

The EU is facing major demographic changes, including an ageing population, low birt rates, changing family structures and migration.

  • Since 2002 the employment rate of older people aged 55 to 64 has slightly but continuously increased. On average, 51.8 % of older workers in the EU were employed in 2014.
  • Life expectancy at age 65 in the EU was 21.1 years for women and 17.7 years for men in 2012. Since 2002 the expected years to live have increased continuously for both sexes and the gap between men and women has declined. Despite the overall improvements, the years to live without any activity limitation have not followed the same positive trend. In 2012, both women and men aged 65 were expected to live on average 8.5 years in a healthy condition.
  • In 2013, the total EU population grew by 3.4 per 1 000 persons. The crude rate of population change has been volatile over time. An increase after 2002 was followed by a temporary dip in the short term, after 2008, caused by a slowdown in both net migration plus adjustment and natural population growth.
  • In 2013, the EU total fertility rate was at 1.55 children per woman, far below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman.
  • The crude rate of net migration plus adjustment in the EU seems to be recovering after a dip following the economic crisis. In 2013 it was 3.2 per 1 000 persons, similar to the crude rate of 2002.
  • The EU old-age-dependency ratio increased continuously between 2001 and 2014 to 28.1 %.
  • In 2013 the average income level of pensioners in the EU was 55 % of the earnings of the working population in their 50s. The aggregate replacement ratio has followed a moderate upward trend both in the long term, since 2005, and the short term, since 2008.
  • Government debt in the EU increased substantially between 2011 and 2014, from 80.9 % to 86.8 %. A recovery from the onset of the economic crisis has yet to be seen.
  • Between 2000 and 2013 the duration of working life in the EU increased by 2.2 years.
  • The social protection expenditure on care for the elderly in the EU-27 has increased from 0.37 % of GDP in 2000 to 0.5 % in 2008 and further to 0.56 % in 2012.
  • Pension expenditure in the EU is projected to remain stable at around 11 % of GDP, from 11.3 % in 2013 to 11.2 % in 2060.

More information on the evaluation of changes for the EU Sustainable Development Indicators (EU SDIs) on demographic changes is available on Statistics Explained: Sustainable development - demographic changes.