Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions

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Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 10



T HE European Union is experiencing a demographic c h a n g e t h a t i s going to have an influence on our societys and on our economys future. The combined action of the low birth rate, the increase of the life expectancy and the amount of people reaching old age compared to the baby-boomgeneration, the result is the so-called ageing of the European society.

This was the subject of the Convention held in Turin, Italy, under the name Elderly people in 2010- form being discriminated to become social actors. In this Convention the issue developed was the elderliessocial value. Despite ageing, the elderlies still maintain their interests and their capability of contributing to todays society and improving considerably the young generations efforts with their life experience and confidence.

The ageing phenomenon affects all nations. In the United States it has been defined as the Silver Tsunami. Professor De Rita has defined it as recent and suddenstill there is no elderlies culture, the fact of not being able to control it is feared.

The European Commission has started concrete initiatives about the Agendas most urgent problems. A Green Book has started a survey of all those who are interested in guiding those activities related to the demographic change. The book is a sort of approximation to the life circlethat takes the different needs of the age groups and the construction of new ways of solidarity between generations into account.

It is estimated that between 2005 and 2050 there will be in Europe a radical change of the populations composition.

The average age of the population, 38 years old in 2000, will increase up to 48 years old in 2050. The umber of people over 65 years old will increase from 17% to 30% while the number of people under 24 years old will go down from 30% to 23%. The working population will be lowered in 130 millions and the number of people over 70 years old will increase 70 millions, reaching a 28% of the population in 2050.

Problems related to ageing are not new. They have given us arguments for several debates about pension systems and about the labour market. While in 19970 there were around 5 people between 15 and 64 years old for each person over 65 years old, in 2030 the same percentage will be reduced to 2.5 people for every one over 65.

From 1999, year named by the UNO a s the International Year of Elderly People, to 2002, year where the Second World Conference about Ageing was held, an a Society for All Ageswas proposed, a battle against discrimination, that has taken several social and statistic publications to carry out studies about demographic analyses and labour laws, has begun.

The aim of these studies and legal procedures are ask the elderlies to participate in a more active way in the phenomenons solution, preparing themselves as well as possible in order to face it. For all this, we asked the elderlies to be able to involve themselves more by means of Training Programmes, improvement in housing solutions and environmental conditions related to their situation.

In English this programme is called empowerment, in other words, reinforcement and boosting of those over 65 years old by means of a guided emancipation enabling them to continue being fiscally and psychologically independent; in review, to continue being part of the society. This could be enhanced by the possibility of them living in their own homes with efficient sanitary and social services, in other words, remaining in their social setting with the possibility of reaching social and sanitary structures and modern flexible care.

The Green Book also examines various possibilities to face the populations ageing problem. One could be to block the phenomenon by increasing the birth rate and the immigration levels. But, what type of policy should be adopted and what problems would emerge? The possible answers include higher aids for children care, highlight the balance between work and family, convince mothers to go back to work or tell fathers that the fact of having a family is not an obstruction in their professional career.

An aged population also brings up several questions about how the contributions of the young generations. It seams that those who are younger are aware of the need to know about new technologies, but current data show that those under 25 years old have difficulties when finding a job. In 2004, almost an 18% was unemployed in comparison with the 7.5% of unemployment rate in those between 25 and 64 years old. And, despite the increase of the education levels in the last decades, still 19% leave school without having obtained a qualification.

The participation of the elderlies in the labour market must be enhanced. The actual level of workers over 55 years old is a 40% aprox., much lower than the 50% foreseen in Lisbon in 2000. In fact, in Europe only a 5.3% of the population between 65 and 79 years old has an active professional life in comparison with the 18.5% in the United States.

But one of the most important changes for the next decades will be the increase of the population over 80 years old. The improvement of living conditions and the sanitary care means a higher life expectancy. If we think that, nowadays there is about 18.8 million people over 80 years old and that this number expected to rise up to 34.7 million in 2030, a 54% increase in 25 years, we will, then, realise how important this phenomenon is. Despite people have good health and are independent for a longer period, we cant hide that the need of local care units is going to be impressively increased. And the fact that a high number of people live far away from their families is also going to make the problem worse.

The way Europe gets over this challenge will depend in its ability to anticipate, manage and adapt itself to changes. The Green Book is, therefore, a first attempt to analyse the problem in a global way and to collect different hypothesis coming from all those who are interested in Europes problem. Therefore, our Group must also collaborate in solving the problem. In fact, all those who are interested can contribute the consultation process by means the document available in the following web site:

 

 

 

But one of the most important changes for the next decades will be the increase of the population over 80 years old. The improvement of living conditions and the sanitary care means a higher life expectancy. If we think that, nowadays there is about 18.8 million people over 80 years old and that this number expected to rise up to 34.7 million in 2030, a 54% increase in 25 years, we will, then, realise how important this phenomenon is. Despite people have good health and are independent for a longer period, we cant hide that the need of local care units is going to be impressively increased. And the fact that a high number of people live far away from their families is also going to make the problem worse.

The way Europe gets over this challenge will depend in its ability to anticipate, manage and adapt itself to changes. The Green Book is, therefore, a first attempt to analyse the problem in a global way and to collect different hypothesis coming from all those who are interested in Europes problem. Therefore, our Group must also collaborate in solving the problem. In fact, all those who are interested can contribute the consultation process by means the document available in the following web site:

 

http://europa.eu.int/yourvoice/consultations/index_en.htm

Franco Salza

President of the Group