Low birth rates, ageing populations and an increasing number of people from other countries and of different religions will bring sustainable change to Europe during the coming decades, and this change is sure to bring about a number of problems with it. This study analyses, contrasts and assesses the demographic and economic development of 285 regions in all 27 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The aim of the comparative study is to show what kind of developments are to be expected where, and how these challenges can be tackled.
Over the past century the world’s population has almost quadrupled. With a global population of 6.7 billion, enormous raw material consumption and increasing pollutant emissions, humankind has now become a danger to itself. Demographic change started decades ago, but the ageing of European society will not reach its peak until 30 to 40 years from now. At that time there will be, for the first time, more people aged 65+ than people under 20.
Demographers are able to predict this fact; however, they ignore whether these people will have retired by then or will still be working, whether they will be well provided for or threatened by poverty, etc. — because these facts depend on how society and politics react to the changes. Demographic change is foreseeable, its consequences are not. In order to deal with these problems, it is important to come up with realistic scenarios of the various developments that might take place given certain conditions.
This study aims to evaluate to what extent the European states are prepared for demographic change and who has so far provided the best answers. As assessments of 285 regions have revealed, there are extreme discrepancies. ERSTE Foundation co-financed the study of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, because it represented the perfect complement to the research conducted for the Generations in Dialogue project.