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The ESPON 2013 Operational Programme
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Old Age Dependency rates, 2000-2005

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data source and more Map: ESPON TiPSE, Team HAS
Data sources: Eurostat 2012
 

  • Europeā€™s population is ageing. However, the share of people aged 65 and older compared to the population in working age (i.e. old age dependency ratio) varies significantly in Europe ā€“ between below 15% and above 35%.
  • Especially in Southern Europe, regions can be found where the share of people aged 65 and older compared to the population in working age is above 35%. This implies that there is about one person in retirement age for three persons in working age.
  • Only in the candidate countries Turkey and Albania, a considerable number of regions have shares where the elderly represent less than 15% compared to the population in working age.
  • Ageing is a social challenge that affects social and territorial cohesion in Europe but can also bring new opportunities for future development.

Observations for policy

Ageing poses a demographic challenge that will further intensify in the future. On a global scale, the EU27+4 represents only 7% of the worldā€™s total population (2012) but 17% of the people aged 65 and older (2012) which implies that the elderlyā€™s share of Europe is rather high compared to other world regions. Within Europe, regions with high old age dependency ratios are mainly concentrated on the Iberian Peninsula, in Southwest France, Northern and Central Italy, on the Balkan and in Greece, along the British coastline and in Sweden. As the need for new services and products will increase, ageing may also offer new opportunities for innovative enterprises in these regions. However, also the burden of social expenditures will increase and potentially lead to a reduction in social services. This may again increase the demand for new solutions and approaches.

Only a few regions in Europe show old age dependency ratios of less than 15% and can mainly be found in Turkey and Albania, but also in Poland, the Netherlands and Ireland, for example. Most regions are characterised by a ratio between 15 and 25%. However, ageing accelerates as the baby-boom generation turns 65 and older. As mentioned in the Europe 2020 Strategy, the active population of the EU has started to shrink in 2013/2014. On the other hand, the number of people aged over 60 will increase by about two million every year ā€“ compared to an annual increase of one million before 2007. Thus, also regions with comparatively low shares will be increasingly affected by demographic change, and will need to develop new ideas and initiatives to tackle this intensifying challenge.

Policy context

The Territorial Agenda 2020 refers to ageing as a phenomenon that will imply changes in many regions, including rural and peripheral regions. It will challenge and influence social and territorial cohesion policies, namely public service provision, labour market and housing.

With regards to its objective of inclusive growth, the Europe 2020 Strategy highlights that Europe has to fully utilise its labour potential to face the long-term and intensifying challenge of ageing. For an ageing population the promotion of health-related aspects will become more important in the future. The Flagship initiative ā€œAn Agenda for new skills and jobsā€ addresses the Member States to promote new forms of work-life balance and active ageing policies.

Also EU Cohesion Policy refers to demographic change. It identifies products and services linked to care and health that cover societal demands and the needs of an ageing population as a future-oriented field for which it is necessary to promote innovation and SMEs.

Map interpretation

In Europe, two candidate countries, namely Turkey and Albania, stand out as countries where the ratio between the population aged 65 and over and working age population (15-64 years) is below 15%. Only a few single regions in Poland, as well as Dutch regions close to Amsterdam, and capital regions like Dublin, Paris, and Skopje achieve such values. For the EU Member States as well as the EU28+4 this means that, considering the exception of Poland, only a few urban areas have a low share of elderly compared to the working age population.

Regions showing values between 15 and 25% can be found in all parts of Europe, but mainly in Central and Southeast Europe, Ireland, and Iceland. Regions with an old age dependency ratio above 30% can mainly be found in Southern Europe. They are concentrated in Serbia, Bulgaria, Central and Northwest Italy, Southwest France, Portugalā€™s inland, Central and Northwest Spain, but also along the (Western) coastline of the UK, and in Central Sweden.

Concepts and methods

The map shows the old age dependency ratio which is ratio between the number of people aged 65 and over and the number of people aged 15-64. The old age dependency ratio indicates the relationship between people in retirement age and working age population. The ratio is displayed in six classes, increasing from less than 15% gradually by 5 percentage points up to more than 35%.


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