The increasing age of Europe’s population and workforce has become a major policy focus,
both in the UK and at European level, over the past few years. A European Commission report
projects that those aged 65 and over will comprise a much larger share of the EU population by 2060 (from 17% to 30% of the population), while those aged 80 and over will rise from 5% to 12% (European Commission 2012).
The fact that a growing proportion of Europe’s workers are classified as ‘older workers’ (generally categorised as 55-plus, although this classification can vary) creates a number of challenges in the area of employment and social policy. These include an increasing strain on pension systems,
in particular in countries that operate ‘pay-as-you-go’ arrangements where those in work fund the pensions of those who have retired. In these countries, the increasing ratio of retired people to those in work will eventually make these systems unsustainable; they are already starting to creak in many countries.