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Competence Centre on Foresight

We foster a strategic, future-oriented and anticipatory culture in the EU policymaking process.

Page | Last updated: 10 Dec 2019

Potential implications of Increasing Demographic Imbalances

That many societies have a growing older population will have implications for economic growth, inequality, and the sustainability of public finances. Furthermore, population ageing has an impact on wide social aspects such as employment and labour, family and intergenerational ties, and demand for goods and services such as housing for example. The increase of longevity will put pressure on and influence the changing of health systems, pension systems, social protection etc. Moreover, business models and talent management will as well be influenced by this.  



  • How a smaller labour force shall provide for a larger proportion of retired persons is increasingly a matter of concern in some regions of the world. Rising old-age dependency ratios will put unprecedented stress on the financing of public pensions, especially in a slow growth environment. | Related megatrends: Work
  • Ageing societies have implications for resource distribution, and there is a need to address the issue of the institutions having the capacity to adjust the systems for savings, investments in human capital, labour supply and public intergenerational transfers. 
  • The structure of the workforce may need to change: older workers will need to work longer and learn new skills, and the workforce may need to be supplemented by migrants and automation. | Related megatrends: WorkMigrationTechnology
  • The most effective way to tackle the negative consequences of an ageing population in the EU is to increase labour force participation. | Related megatrends: Work

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  • With increasing numbers of older dependants in the population, concerns on how to finance social security, social care and long-term health arise. The ability to reshape the health and long-term care provision may also be in question.
  • How to address fairness between and within generations is an increasing concern, since inequalities in access to economic and social support, resources and health between different income groups are likely to remain in the next decades.
  • Age-related inequalities become more critical in a context of rapid population ageing. Older persons face disadvantages in accessing affordable quality care, even though they on average have greater health care needs thang younger groups. Within the group older persons there are also disparities in health. These reflect accumulated disadvantage relating to e.g. socio-economic status, gender, location, ethnic background as well as inadequate policies or ageist attitudes.    
  • The demand will increase for care services and technologies that can prevent and treat conditions associated with old age. The number of people affected by non-communicable diseases is expected to rise substantially in the coming decades, reflecting an ageing and increasing global population.

| Related megatrends: HealthInequalitiesTechnology

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