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Low fertility rates, an ageing population and increased migration within the European Union pose significant challenges for policymakers according to a joint statement published today by eight European academies of science. The academies add that Governments and institutions will need to plan for changes in population against a backdrop of climate change and shortages in natural resources.
Among its recommendations, the statement suggests that policy should take advantage of lower fertility rates by investing more in each person – in education and work – in order to keep Europe competitive and maintain its wealth.
The population of Europe is growing older than it has ever before and in most European countries the total period fertility rate has fallen to well below two children. The academies have called for a systematic and life-course approach to policymaking that takes into account the challenges a changing population will present to policies on health, education, employment and physical living conditions.
The national academies urge policymakers to consider how longer working lives, promoted by the macroeconomic need to retain people longer in the labour market and by better individual health and performance levels, demand new flexible life-course patterns. They say policies should provide an institutional basis supportive of more frequent movement between learning, working and private/family life.
The joint statement has been signed by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, the Royal Society, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences.