Long-Term Active Ageing Opportunities in Europe

Nicole Van der Gaag, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW)
Anne Goujon, Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)

While welfare policies for the elderly initially intended to deal with dependency issues and to reduce the risk of poverty in old age, today the focus is gradually moving to support participation of the elderly into society through sustaining their health and developing services that are needed to fulfill their requirements. Several approaches have been proposed to measure healthy, productive, successful, and active ageing. These approaches are useful for cross-country comparisons of the current contribution of the elderly to society and the potential for active ageing, but they do not take into account that the characteristics of the elderly will change once younger generations reach old-age. This mismatch may hamper the use of these approaches for long-term forward looking ageing policies.

In several studies, educational attainment is identified as an important factor for older people’s longevity, health and participation. Increasing levels of educational attainment among the elderly therefore, may improve active ageing opportunities and may result in declining differences between younger and older age groups. This may relieve the consequences of population ageing. At the same time, however, it may lead to increasing diversity within the group of elderly as older people with a low educational background may become a more selective group.

In this paper we study the mutual impact on population ageing in Europe of changes in the relative size of young and old age groups as well as the level of educational attainment of young and old generations. We use population projections by age, sex, country and level of educational attainment for the period 2010-2050 and focus on three domains of active ageing: participation in employment, informal care for the elderly and participation in voluntary work. The aim of the paper is to identify country-specific optimal long-term policy responses to population ageing.

Presented in Session 1129: Ageing and Intergenerational Relations