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Brussels, 17 March 2005
The Commission is launching a public consultation
The Commission Green Paper "Faced with demographic change, a new solidarity between the generations", adopted on 16 March, is a consultation document intended to launch a public debate on Europe's changing population structure and raise awareness of the issues.
In its paper, the Commission tackles for the first time in a holistic approach the issue of demographic ageing, which is not confined to older workers and pensioners. Europe's population structure is changing. Demographic ageing affects the whole of society and has repercussions on all generations.
The number of older workers (aged 55 to 64) will increase by 24 million between 2005 and 2030
The number of people aged over 80 will rise from 18.8 million today to 34.7 million in 2030.
The EU's total working age population (15-64 years) will fall by 20.8 million (- 6.8 per cent) between 2005 and 2030.
There are three different factors behind demographic ageing :
The populations of some Member States are already falling :
Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Czech Republic
For the development in Member States see :
Of the six most-populated EU Member States, only the UK and France will see their populations increase between 2005 and 2050 (with the UK population projected to increase by 8 per cent and the French population by 9.6 per cent).
In many countries, the falling birth rates are being offset by
Europe's population is stagnating and is set to decline
The total population of the EU will rise very slightly for the next 20 years and then start to fall. It will rise from :
In contrast, the population of the USA will rise by 25.6 per cent between 2000 and 2025.
The EU's birth rate has been falling for 30 years. The total fertility rate for the EU in 2003 was 1.48 children per woman.
Of the ten countries in the world with the lowest birth rates,
Italy, Spain, Germany and Poland have a fertility rate of less than 1.3 children per woman.
The level needed to replace the population is around 2.1 children per
Rising life expectancy
Rate of demographic dependence
The rate of total demographic dependence (the ratio of population aged 0-14 years and older than 65 years to the population aged 15-64 years) will rise from 49 per cent in 2005 to 66 per cent in 2030
Europe's prosperity and living standards are threatened by population ageing.
There has never, in Europe's recent history, been a period of sustainable economic growth without population growth to create opportunities for investment and consumption.
The annual rate of potential growth of Europe's GDP is projected to fall from today's 2-2.25 per cent to 1.5 per cent in 2015 and 1.25 per cent in 2040.
Successive waves of EU enlargement have accentuated the demographic contrasts.
Europe is the first region in the world to experience demographic ageing.
The populations of our neighbouring regions in Europe, Africa and the Middle East will start to age much later : their populations are much younger, with an average age of 20 years or less, compared to 35 in Europe.
But China's population will age rapidly and will decline from 2025.
The issues raised by the demographic changes in the EU :
Demographic changes have economic and social consequences for all age groups :