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More Years Better Lives: – A Strategic Research Agenda on Demographic Change is a publication of the Joint Programming Initiative More Years, Better Lives – The Potential and Challenges of Demographic Change Brussels, 2014

Research output: Book/anthology/dissertation/reportReportResearch

  • Members of Advisory Boards and the thematic Working Groups
Demographic change is changing the
shape of Europe. Rising life expectancy,
combined with low fertility rates and
complex patterns of migration, mean
that while the size of the population
remains stable, its distribution and
average age is rising steadily. At the
same time general health is improving,
so that today’s 65-year-olds are likely
to be healthier and more active than
their parents were at the same age,
and the proportion of people aged over
80 is rising rapidly. As a result, for the
first time in history, a substantial – and
growing – proportion of the population
is healthy and active but not in the
Demographic change is caused by
three factors: rising life expectancy,
an upward trend which has been
consistent for over a century; low
fertility rates, which vary between
countries, but are overall below
replacement rate; and migration, within
Europe itself and between Europe and
the rest of the world, which may help
offset the effects of ageing in some
counties or regions, but which brings its
own challenges.
Alongside this change in the
structure of the population, we are
seeing a reshaping of the lifecourse,
from a fairly simple one with three
stages – childhood, working life and
retirement – to one with four stages
– childhood, mid-life, the new phase of
active later life4 and old age. At the same
time, patterns of family structure, and
intergenerational relationships, rights
and responsibilities are all changing .
This is not happening in a vacuum.
Changes in the nature of work – both
paid and unpaid – are taking place,
as are the expectations we have of
government. The financial crisis which
began in 2008 has led governments to
question the viability of welfare models
which had been relatively stable for
a generation or more. Developments in
biotechnology and assistive technologies
are enabling people to live longer
and healthier lives, but sometimes at
a substantial cost. Communication technologies
are transforming how people
interact, how business is done and how
public services are delivered. These
changes have positive and negative
dimensions and can present special
challenges to some older people.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages113
Commissioning bodyEU
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

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