Highlights

Demographic trends

  • Demography
    a stylised image of two older people on a tandem bicycle
    In 2018, life expectancy at birth increased to 78.2 years for men and 83.7 for women. This growth is projected to continue: men born in 2070 are expected to live 86 years, and women 90
  • Demography
    6 windows show glimpses of people at home. A man and woman hug, a man sits alone at a screen, a woman plays the violin, two people share a drink, a man reads in an armchair, a woman serves food to a child.
    In the EU as a whole, the composition of our households is changing – households composed of two parents with children are being joined by households consisting of people living alone, single parents or couples without children.
  • Demography
    a stylised image of two women beside a pram, one is pregnant. A man cycles past with a child in a child-seat
    In 2018, the average number of childbirths per woman was 1.55 and their median age at childbirth was 31.3.
  • Demography
    A man carries a box, a child and a woman empty another box.
    Some of us opt to move around or live abroad, but the size of these flows is volatile and can change quickly.
  • Demography
    Two older people stand with a surfboard, taking a selfie
    By 2070, 30.3% of the population is projected to be aged 65 years or older (compared to 20.3% in 2019) and 13.2% is projected to be aged 80 years or older (compared to 5.8% in 2019)
  • Demography
    An image of a multi-ethnic group of people walking from left to right.
    The share of Europe’s population in the world is shrinking and by 2070 it will account for just under 4% of the world’s population.

Impacts of demographic change

1

Europe’s working-age population is shrinking and we need to find ways to sustain economic growth by bringing more people into jobs and increasing productivity.

2

To deal with Europe’s ageing society, our health and care systems will have to adapt further and we will have to consider how to fund higher age-related public spending.

3

Demographic challenges often vary significantly between different parts of the same country. With some regions likely to experience rapid population change, this will lead to new opportunities and challenges, from investment to infrastructure and accessibility to access to services. Finding new solutions to support people through change will be essential.

4

Demographic change can also impact Europe’s position in the world. It’s share of global population and GDP will become comparatively smaller. This makes the need for Europe to be united, stronger and more strategic all the more important.

5

Demographic change and the twin green and digital transitions often affect, support or accelerate each other - strategic foresight will therefore be an essential tool to predict and prepare policies to address these issues.

The findings of the Commission’s Demography Report show that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Policymaking needs to zoom into the reality on the ground. The European Union, Member States and regions have a shared interest in responding to demographic change for the benefit of all Europeans. Demographic change will affect everybody and must be a factor that helps steer Europe’s recovery from the crisis and provide us with insights as we build a more resilient, sustainable and fair Union.

Click on a country or region in the map below to access demographic statistics for that area.

The NUTS classification (Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics) is a hierarchical system for dividing up the economic territory of the EU.

  • NUTS 1 represents major socio-economic regions
  • NUTS 2 represents basic regions for the application of regional policies

See more demographic statistics for individual EU countries

Green paper on ageing

In the coming decades, the share and the number of older people in the EU will increase. Today, 20% of the population is above 65, and by 2070, it is projected to be 30%. The share of people above 80 is expected to more than double, reaching 13% by 2070. This trend is having a significant impact on people’s everyday lives and on our societies.

Given the scale, speed and impact this trend will have across society, it is important to consider new approaches and ensure that policies are fit for purpose in an era of major change – from the green and digital transitions to new forms of work and the threat of pandemics.

Competences for dealing with the effects of ageing are largely in the hands of Member States and the EU is well placed to identify key issues and trends and support action on ageing at national, regional and local level. It can help Member States and regions develop their own, tailor-made policy responses to ageing.

The European Commission adopted the green paper on ageing with the aim of launching a broad policy debate on ageing to discuss options on how to anticipate and respond to the challenges and opportunities that ageing brings.

  • Demography
    care
    In 2018  5.4% of women, and 2.2% of men, aged 18-64  reduced their working time, or took employment breaks of more than a month to care for ill and/or older relatives with disabilities.
  • Demography
    long-term-care
    The number of people potentially in need of long-term care is expected to increase from 19.5 million in 2016 to 23.6 million in 2030 and 30.5 million in 2050 in the EU.
  • Demography
    employment
    The employment rate among older workers in the EU remains lower than for younger ones. 59.1% of those aged 55-64 were employed in 2019, in comparison to 80.6% of all those aged 25-54 (for 2019).
  • Demography
    pension
    Pensions are the main source of income for most retirees. In 2019 women’s pensions in the EU were on average 27.9% lower than men’s. Women tend to earn less, have shorter, less linear careers, work part-time and take on more unpaid care responsibilities.

Proposals for areas of discussion on ageing

1 Healthy and active ageing and lifelong learning. Promoting healthy lifestyles and learning throughout our lives is key to a richer and fuller life
2

Improving labour market performance.  Bringing more people into the labour market, enabling them to work for longer and improving productivity would help compensate for the shrinking working-age population.

3 Modernising social protection systems and fighting old-age poverty. For most people, retirement comes with a drop in income and, for some, the threat of old-age poverty, often linked to increased need for health care and long-term care.
4 Improving the resilience of our health and care systems.   Ageing and longevity will increase the overall demand for healthcare and long-term care services.
5 Fostering intergenerational solidarity and responsibility. The response to an ageing population includes the commitment of young and older people, fostering intergenerational solidarity and responsibility with enabling policies.

EU Comprehensive Strategy on the Rights of the Child

Children are experts in the matters that concern them. More than 10,000 children were consulted when we developed the strategy on the rights of the child and its 6 accompanying pillars. Our role is to protect fulfil children’s rights and to empower them as agents of change today and on their way to becoming tomorrow’s leaders.

Comprehensive Strategy on the rights of the child

European Child Guarantee

The European Child Guarantee is an instrument focused on ‘children in need’ in the EU: those who are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

The Guarantee will support Member States in their efforts to offer equal opportunities for children in need by improving their access to a set of basic services: early childhood education and care, education and play and leisure activities, healthcare, nutrition, and housing.

Timeline

The next steps are:

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