By Ilonka Oudenampsen
The number of Europeans over 65 will have grown from 17% in 2010 to 30% in 2060, while the number of those aged between 15 and 64 will have decreased from 67% to 56% over the same time period, resulting in a pensioner-to-worker ratio increase from 39% to 71%, the European Commission’s 2012 Ageing Report has found.
Only 5% of the population is currently over 80, which will increase to 12% in fifty years’ time and at that time there will be just as many youngsters. Until 2020 the labour force will increase slightly, but will then start to diminish by about 12% until 2060. However the percentages vary greatly between countries, from a 25% increase in Ireland to a 38.5% drop in Romania over the same period up to 2060.
The report said: "Due to the expected dynamics of fertility, life expectancy and migration rates, the age structure of the EU population is projected to dramatically change in coming decades. The overall size of the population is projected to be slightly larger in 50 years time, but much older than it is now."
With lower birth rates and higher life expectancy, the pensioner-to-worker ratio will rise from 39% in 2010 to 71% in 2060. Denmark, the UK and Ireland have the lowest rate with 55%, while Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Romania will have the highest rates of over 90% in 2060.
The pension reforms that some member states have agreed upon are often insufficient to deal with these issues, and the report recommends pension age increases in line with longevity and the possibility for older workers to remain in the workforce.