Leopoldina Menü

Leopoldina Home

Press Release | Tuesday, 10. June 2014

Policymakers must plan for a Europe with low fertility rates and longer lives

European science academies’ statement on demographic change in Europe

Low fertility rates, an ageing population and increased migration within Europe* pose significant challenges for policymakers according to a joint statement published today (10 June) 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 statement also recommends that European standards for the design of working environments, careers and training need to be established based on criteria that aim to support mental and physical well-being in the work place, and to help employees change working practises before their productivity and health are compromised.

Speaking on behalf of the task force that wrote the report and representing the German National Academy of Science Leopoldina, Professor Ursula M. Staudinger, said:

“Demographic change takes place in all of Europe, but at a different pace and met by differing levels of preparedness. We should use Europe’s diversity and immense cultural capacity to increase productivity and to adapt to resource constraints.”

The statement questions the all-encompassing validity of chronological age as a marker of capacity or performance.  The statement calls for the development of additional indicators that are sensitive to cohort changes in the ageing process, in particular to observed increases in physical and cognitive performance of older adults from cohort to cohort.

Professor Günter Stock, President of the federation of All European Academies (ALLEA) supports the recommendations conveyed in the joint statement in his personal capacity:

“European values on how to combine work and family life, how to use the individual potential throughout the longer lifespan, and how to best integrate and accommodate migrants vary significantly. From a scientific point of view, academies of science across Europe affirm that it is neither the number of children or of immigrants nor of life years per se, but the quality of living in sustainable conditions we need to improve. This is the direction of reconciling demographic change processes with economic, social and environmental conditions.”

The full statement and recommendations made by the academies of science can be accessed via the link on the right.

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.

*Europe refers to the 28 European member states.

For further information contact:
Dr. Katja Patzwaldt (wissenschaftliche Referentin der Professorin Ursula M. Staudinger)
c/o Jacobs University Bremen
Jacobs Center on Lifelong Learning and Institutional Development
Campus Ring 1, 28759 Bremen
Tel.: +49 (0) 421 - 200 4709
E-Mail: k.patzwaldt@jacobs-university.de

CONTACT

Leopoldina

Caroline Wichmann

Head of Department Press and Public Relations

Phone 0345 - 472 39 - 800
Fax 0345 - 472 39 - 809
E-Mail presse@leopoldina.org

CONTACT

Leopoldina

Julia Klabuhn

Editor Press and Public Relations

Phone 0345 - 47 239 - 802
Fax 0345 - 47 239 - 809
E-Mail presse@leopoldina.org

Press distribution list

Register for the Leopoldina press distribution list.

Registration

RSS Feed

The RSS feed keeps you informed about our latest press releases.

RSS Feed press releases