Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Active ageing

Active ageing means helping people stay in charge of their own lives for as long as possible as they age and, where possible, to contribute to the economy and society.


  • The proportion of older people in our societies is increasing fast, due to low birth rates, ageing "baby-boomers" and rising life expectancy.
  • Between 2016 and 2060, the share of people over 65 will grow from 19.3% to 29.0% of the total population. The percentage of people over 80 will more than double to 12.1%.
  • During the same time, the working age population (15-64) in the EU is expected to decline by 11.6%. As economic growth until now has been fueled to a large extent by workforce growth, a smaller labour force might have adverse effects on the European economy and social systems.
  • Pensions, health care and long-term care systems risk becoming financially unsustainable, as a shrinking labour force may no longer be able to provide for the needs of the growing number of older people.

Policy response

  • Addressing the ageing challenge and turning it into an opportunity depends on extending working lives, developing supplementary pensions and ensuring that all workers have access to adequate social protection, including pensions. The Commission supports the Member States' actions in this respect
  • The EU devoted the European Year 2012  to promoting active ageing as a basis for solidarity between generations. In this context, guiding principles for active ageing were developed by the Social Protection Committee and the Employment Committee.
  • The Active Ageing Index has been developed to assess the untapped potential of older people. Over the past 6 years the index has become a well-tested and applied instrument of policy reform.
  • The European Innovation Partnership for Active and Health Ageing is fostering innovation to raise healthy life expectancy.
  • The Social Protection Committee is looking at ways to provide adequate and sustainable long-term care in ageing societies, by investing in preventative care, rehabilitation, age-friendly environments and more ways of delivering care that are better adjusted to people’s needs and existing abilities.
  • EU programmes such as EaSI and the ESF have funded projects to develop and apply comprehensive active ageing strategies.

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