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The consequences of demographic change according to the European Commission

June 18, 2020 - Policy News

The consequences of demographic change according to the European Commission

On 17 june, the Commission released a report which will provide the basis of a consultation leading to a European action plan in 2021 to address demographic issues. This action plan will have an impact on social policies and in healthcare sector.

By 2070, it is estimated that 30% of European citizens will be 65 years old and over, in contrast with  the 20% we have today. From 2019 to 2070, the proportion of people aged 80 and over is expected to more than double to achieved 13%.

At the same time, the working-age population (20-64 years) is expected to decline. In 2019, it represented 59% of the total population. By 2070, it is expected to be reduced to 51%.

According to the Commission, the decline in the working-age population highlights the need for Europe and its labour market to take advantage of all its strengths, talents and diversity and for this reason it advocates for:

  • The increase of the employment rate of women and indicates that the unequal sharing of family tasks was particularly felt during the containment period when care for the elderly, people with disabilities or children had to be organized privately and the burden was largely borne by them. This means, that social services should be developed. The challenge of reconciling work and family life is also at the heart of the problem.
  • Making further progress in the integration of older workers into employment as well as investing in the skills of people with low levels of education.
  • Opening up the labour market to people with disabilities that would contribute to a fairer society and cope with the consequences of changing demographics. Social economy actors are identified as playing an important role in promoting a more inclusive labour market.

European health care and long-term care systems (mainly for the elderly and people with disabilities) have been at the forefront throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been put to the test in the fight against the virus and were already under increasing pressure, especially because of the ageing of our society.

The Commission notes that the demand for staff is expected to increase with the demand for health care and long-term care, there are already signs of labour shortages in this sector. In this regard, the Commission recalls the OECD's ongoing work on staff employed in the sector, which highlights the importance of improving working conditions and making them more attractive.

Finally, for the Commission "the main challenge is to meet a growing demand for sufficient, accessible, good quality and affordable health and long-term care services, as envisaged by the European Pillar of Social Rights."  

All these findings will allow the Social Employers to continue, on common basis, their dialogue with the EU to defend social services employers, users and workers interests.

Access to the full report here.

The report is available in English, French and German and national data is also available in fact sheets.

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