Over the past 10 years, UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) member States have made significant progress in adapting social protection systems, promoting health and independent living and adjusting labour markets to the needs of an increasingly ageing population.
However, these are also among the top areas where major challenges are still identified on the way towards implementing active ageing policies, i.e. policy-frameworks that enable individuals to be active throughout their life-course and until old age. These are some of the findings of the “Synthesis report on the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing in the UNECE region” that was presented September 19th at the UNECE Ministerial Conference “Ensuring a society for all ages: promoting quality of life and active ageing” in Vienna.
In 2002 when the UNECE countries adopted their Regional Implementation Strategy for the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, some 154 million people among the region’s population of 1.18 billion were aged 65 years or above (13%). Ten years later, the number of people aged 65 years or above has increased to 174.5 million and presently accounts for 14.1% of the region’s total population, and the trend will accelerate in coming years reaching 267.7 million (20,1%) in 2030.
These are some highlights of the synthesis report:
Adapting labour markets - For persons aged 60-64 years, labour force participation has increased sharply in the UNECE region between 2000 and 2010, from 39.6% to 46.5% for male and from 22.7% to 31.5% for women. More modest increases have been registered at age 65+, from 11.7% to 12.6% for men and from 5.7% to 7.1% for women. This reflects the efforts made by many countries to develop strategic frameworks to promote longer working lives.
Reforming social protection systems - Overall, the percentage of people aged 50 and above at risk of poverty or social exclusion has fallen sharply across the region between 2005 and 2010. However, in some countries of Western Europe, the trend has stabilised or even reversed, especially for women aged 75+. Social security expenditures make for a large share of public budgets and finding ways to sustain social protection systems has been one of the priorities in member States, despite accrued fiscal constraints since the financial crisis of 2008. Eighteen countries have introduced pension system reforms, for example by increasing required contributory periods, limiting early retirement options and increasing the retirement age.
Ensuring quality of life at all ages and maintaining independent living, health and well-being - Several countries have developed integrated ageing-strategies in the health and care sectors, to enhance access to affordable services while ensuring sustainability. Major investments have been made in offering home-based care, further developing long-term care, geriatric and palliative care as well as institutional care for those in need.
Mainstreaming ageing - Thirteen countries have already adopted specific ageing-related strategic frameworks or action plans, including Armenia, Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Lithuania, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Several countries have established national multi-stakeholder bodies with advisory functions to government that also include older persons or their representatives.
Click here to download the “Synthesis report on the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing in the UNECE region”.