Europe sure ain’t getting any younger. In 2018, nearly one in five Europeans were aged 65 or older. By the year 2100, the proportion of people aged 80 plus in Europe is predicted to more than double to 14.6%. Nine of the 10 nations with the largest populations of over-60s and over-80s in the world are in Europe. Can the continent’s pension, welfare, and healthcare systems cope if a shrinking workforce is forced to support an ever-growing cohort of elderly retirees?
Some countries are already feeling the impact. EU Member States like Italy, Germany, and Portugal already have a median age well into the 40s. Rural communities tend to be hit first (and hardest). In Portugal, for example, certain villages are experiencing devastating rates of emigration, forcing residents to question whether their communities can survive.
In order to take a closer look at the local impact of the refugee crisis, we have launched our ‘Cities & Refugees‘ project – aimed at fostering a Europe-wide dialogue between citizens, refugees and asylum seekers, NGOs, politicians, and European leaders. The emphasis is on connecting local, everyday life at the city level to decisions made in Brussels and national capitals.
Today, we are looking at Penela in Portugal, a small municipality of less than 6,000 people. Roughly 30% of Penela’s population were aged 65+ in 2017 (which is more than 10% higher than the EU average). The community is one of many in Portugal which have welcomed Syrian refugees with open arms; they now host more than 20 refugees (and their first Syrian-Portuguese child was born in 2018).
So, could refugees be part of the solution to Europe’s demographic crisis? Obviously, the number of asylum seekers coming to Europe is still small (even the one million estimated to have arrived in 2015 represents just 0.1% of the EU population, and would not be enough to slow down Europe’s demographic decline). Yet, in small communities like Penela it could make a real difference (especially considering that over 80% of asylum seekers in Europe are younger than 34).
Curious to know more about refugees and Europe’s ageing population? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).
What do our readers think? We had a comment from Marion, who questions why an ageing population is such a bad thing. She thinks a decreasing population might actually be better in the long-run. Is she right?
To get a response, we spoke to Luís Matias, Mayor of Penela. How would he respond to Marion?
There is no development without people, so we need people to develop our land, our territory. We need people able to work and to have different ideas, different perspectives of our town. I think that’s much better than worse. So: people, people, people. That’s the main issue to have in the developing process.
To get another perspective, we put the same question to Gonçalo Saraiva Matias, Director of Research at the Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos, a Portuguese foundation dedicated to evidence-based debate about policy solutions to the challenges facing Portugal. What would he say?
The welfare state we have in Europe has been designed over a perfect demographic pyramid. It means that the pensions scheme, for instance, depends on having a large contributing and active population, larger that the recipients. The demographic crisis and the ageing of the population inverted the pyramid and represents a challenge to the system. Decreasing population, among other economic impacts, will have a direct negative impact on social security and the welfare state as a whole.
Next up, we had a comment from Catherine, who is concerned about resources given to local governments. She’s worried that any funds being allocated to integrate refugees with the local population mean less for ‘native inhabitants’ in the country or municipality. What would the mayor of Penela say to her?
Well, the Penela programme provided benefits for 6 months for the hosting of these refugees. After those 6 months of help, refugees started earning their own money. They are now paying taxes like any citizen. That’s the way to make it. But if we have a walled Europe, we have less labour capacity. In fact we need young people to work and we need children who in 20 or 25 years will be the working force of Europe. I’m sorry, I can’t see it that way. I think they are part of the richness of Penela.
I think the integration process is more efficient in the little towns, in the low density areas because in fact people are more concerned with integration than hosting. We want them to become part of our community. We don’t want them to isolate themselves, because they share the same spaces: the same schools, the same health centres, etc.
Finally, we had a comment from Paul, who is concerned that refugees may not have the skills required to enter the labor market. How has Portugal approached this issue? What would Gonçalo Saraiva Matias say?
First and foremost, when talking about refugees we are concerned about people fleeing from conflict situations where they are persecuted and their lives are at risk. According to International Law, it is a fundamental obligation of the member states do the Convention on the Protections of Refugees to provide asylum. The skills are thus irrelevant when considering admitting someone as a refugee.
Having said that, refugees often are highly skilled and trained people. Because they face persecution in a conflict situation, highly skilled people tend to flee from conflict and find shelter in other countries. If we think about historical examples, Einstein was refugee during the Second World War. Chances are that highly skilled people will move to other countries because of persecution rather than just as an economic migration decision.
Are refugees the solution to Europe’s ageing population? Or are there simply too few refugees to make a difference? And is a greying population really such a bad thing? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
NO WAY. What kind of question is this? To mix the population and religions in order to solve the ageing population problem????
EU can fund programmes to support the European families to have more children in every member-state. Most of the families afraid of the cost of having 3rd or 4th child.
The money which EU give for the immigrant’s care can be given to family programmes.
Not sure if OP said religions. He’s basically saying “are there enough wars and dictatorships sending us enough people such that it outweighs europe’s aging demographic crisis. Which is a ridiculous question, given that we have way way way more than 1 or 2 million elderly pensioners in the EU.
As for what the EU can fund in its own population growth, that is a pointless change of subject unless you can time-travel back to the 1990s and get them to do it THEN, so that we have a sizable workforce NOW. Because the elderly pension issue is bankrupting most EU country NOW. not 20 years in the future.
Support this view
Refugees? No thanks
So….. peacekeepers then?
Let’s be realistic. It’s either one or the other. And we already made a choice, didn’t we?
I’m from a founder state of the EU and I can tell u refugees are out of the equation… look Sweden,Italy,France: all sick and tired of fake refugees
In principle, the scale of the grey crisis is such that it doesn’t have a single “Magic bullet” answer to it. We don’t want to end up like Japan, with a radically aging and shrinking population. But there’s mainly only refugees when there’s a war or dictatorship going on somewhere. Basing our long term plans on that is no way to have a stable demography.
Are you serious? Giving benefits to refugees in order to come to Europe while overtaxing European citizens in order to make money for these benefits
are there enough refugees amongst all the migrants?
Do you mean afriganization and idiganization of Europe? thank you NO
The first solution is to see how can you help for more children there, to fight the problem.
No and they never can never be a solution for any demographic issue, in fact it’s the opposite – they create whole new demographic and cultural issues and conflicts. The only solution is for young Europeans to have more children.
And also each country should take as many refugees as they can handle and want, they are not part of the solution of the question. Also just to put it here, not everyone is falling for the implementation of the Kalergi plan btw
No. Then no and no.
No Nazism No Orbanism
The real danger in Hungary is the orbanist state sponsored terrorism:
The real danger is Brussels & its empire builders.
Babies! The solution is babies!
What refugees ? All we see is boat loads of young male financial migrants who will never assimilate & create Islamic strongholds across Western Europe.
Europe needs migration…otherwise it will be face huge problems…
You cant go on with stable public finances with a so low fertility rate…
Or we should organize natalist policies
Stay at your home, you the first.
Johnny, as a Belgian citizen ,i am European and My home is Europe.
Who are you to tell others to leave ? Who are you ?
There is a difference between legal regulated migration and giving out residency just because. Merit based migration policy such as in New Zealand, Australia or Canada are actually viable solutions. First of all we should make migration possible for qualified candidates before we start taking anyone.
Erik what are you? some kind of xenophobic? How dare you talking about Legal migration? xD xD
Refugees, no. Migrants, yes. Do you understand the dif? Each country and not Brussels should decide how many, genre, age, prof skills, cultural and social behaviour , that fits their national needs
The problem is that the immigrant refugees are not an additional to our society because their intelligence and education level is too low to contribute to our society. They actually aggravate the ageing problem because they stress the social benefits system.
The problem is and was overpopulation. The solution is almost there. We solved the problem by using contraceptives and educating women. Now the problem will disappear when we old babyboomers close our eyes for ever. Europe stopt killing its people in war and now stopped overpopulation by peace and social justice. The job is not done yet, but the path is the right one. Wait for the whealth you will inherit from us. Do not spoil your inheritance by new overpopulating. Now that the rest of the world has started exploiting Nature and wildlife to the point of extinction, like we did in the past, we can start to make more space for nature and wildlife. Let Europe and its inhabitants regain what it has lost in the process of feeding and breeding humans.
No, the solution for ageing populations is for Europeans to have more children. The first question should be why that’s not happening and why so many couples who want children keep postponing it. Solving Europe’s problems with people who are fleeing either war or subhuman life conditions is ridiculous and paints them as merely a lesser evil.
The solution is to have more children and more politics that help families to grow.
No refugees, just economical emigrants that suck our welfare state dry, because they do not work, so no, we don’t need them and they are too many by now, this mass immigration needs to be stopped and they have to go back to their countries. We, the european people, need politics to gives us a chance to have children and provide for our children. Stop taking money from us to give to this false refugees.
Forgive me but wont these ‘refugees’ eventually become elderly themselves and just compound the ageing population problem??
Not! We must have politics for Young family with more children.
And from another point of view is corect to depopulate another countries? Of course I refere at Syria, Iran, etc.
Encouraging the indigenous people to have more children is the answer. People seem to forget that immigrants grow old too but most have paid less into the pensions system than the indigenous people.
This problem started happening because of disconnected leaders in the first place. Ignoring the downsides of progressive politics.
Instead traditional views should be pushed. The problem is the Socialist/Progressive parties would panic and start screaming “homophobic”, “misogyny”, “racist”
just at the thought of returning to replacement level pro European white families where the father is head of the family and minority sexual lifestyles are looked down on.
Also look into why people are stuck on their smartphones, video games, and social media, which creates addicts, loneliness, and less human to human interaction.
Or look into university now requiring many added on years. And often delaying marriages to later. Having children later has increased chance for problems (for child and mother) if a couple never had earlier children.
No, supporting and encouraging European parents is the solution to Europe’s aging population. Importing a foreign population with a radically different worldview will only succeed in making Europe more like other, less successful, continents.
Are refugees the solution to Europe’s ageing population?
You cannot be serious?
And here we see the objective of this phenomina and where it’s heading.
The founders of this idealism, want their position as aristocrats restored, to rule, undiplomatically over us all. This was the aim of the EU founders, with the help of their global breeders. And now the real fight begins. Watch the newspapers in the UK, filled daily with selective propaganda leaving you breathless with each punch. Ten to twelve relentless articles each morning on how wonderful and important these born to lead people are. The pace grows frantic, the scheme is floundering. This Brexit spectre haunts and threatens.
Are refugees the solution to Europe’s ageing population?
You cannot be serious?
And here we see the objective of this phenomina and where it’s heading.
The founders of this idealism, want position as aristocrats restored, to rule, undiplomatically. This was the aim of the EU founders, with the help of their global insight. And now the real fight takes off. Watch the newspapers in the UK, filled daily with selective propaganda leaving you breathless with each punch. Ten to twelve relentless articles each morning on how wonderful and important those born to lead are. The pace grows frantic, the scheme is floundering. Brexit haunts and threatens as only a spectre can.
* In the first instant only European & other legal migrants- ‘pull”- according to national accredited & approved selection criteria- yes!
* But, whoever is in an “Asylum Seeker push limbo” and/or all illegal’s- no!
Suddenly, the regulatory super power confuses & ignores to implement its “tough” regulations- double standards? And the reasons are?
Does the EU “seriously” believe its survival hinges on the availability of “so called Refugees”? It is the worst scenario possible! Void of imagination or innovation. Pure panic?
The published Penela Portuguese example is an exception, maybe relevant for its local town. It is unrepresentative of Europe and is no justification to roll it out across the EU! Further, Portugal had an unique historical African experience in Mozambique & Angola– quite different from others in Europe.
Remember, as per UN Refugee Convention they are “protected” while being given “temporary shelter” CLOSEST across their nearest “safe border- until “normality” returns at home. Thereafter, they (should) return home. “Normality” however differs from nation to nation.
EU think tanks (e.g. FOE Mr. Gilles Merritt) suggests to top up from a selection of of mainly failed or near failed, corrupt and still trapped in states of local tribal traditions – to rejuvenate the EU?
Sorry, but what a desperate & bankrupt idea by the EU!
Not so long ago there was an EU summit. Below is the “product” of the European Council conclusions dated 28 June 2018:
Result: “There is no fix”! Nothing brainy on migration, not on jobs, growth and competitiveness. Just flopping around like the last Dodo bird!
Why do the sovereign nanny states not consider other funding models for pensions? There would be other options! Why chose the worst outcome in the pension equation?
Go EU, try a bit harder! If at wits end, ask your voters- they might be willing to help you out.
Please give options- then hold national referendums- in truly direct democratic style!
Are refugees the solution to Europe’s ageing population?
Interesting news for Europeans.
Catherine………combine European history with present events- than draw the most plausible conclusions. It provides some interesting facts & maybe some surprises! The invisible forces are relentless! Enjoy!
…………..and there is many more………..!
Say no to Orbanism.
The Japanese society model without immigration works very well, population is happy to work still the age of 80 – 85 even in construction
I don’t think so
Ιmpοrts are fοr things,nοt peοple’it dοesn’t wοrk sο well all that easiely
Saving the imaginarious National Identity from Penetration. ;)
(3) So they took an opportunity to gain something and then they left? So what?
Why are you asking for allegiance? Devotion? Patriotism? Why do you want to indoctrinate these people in “European values”, forced “national courses” and whatnot?
One thing is to command and decree… Another is integration.
They fear us more then what we fear them… No! We then to “hate” them. Reject them. Avoid them. Snub them. Ostracise them. Exclude and shun them. We cast them off and out. We exclude them. So they get houses where they can and then others follow. And as much as we push them out of our neighbourhoods, they also find comfort and familiarity with their own… And dare we not mix with them in the same buildings and tenaments. (Which is what happens in Mallorca with all the Germans making their German ghettos, the Brits in their British ghettos, the Italians in their Italian ghettos or the Romanians in their Romanian ghettos… Where a word of Spanish is seldom or nowhere to be heard). So what happened? Why aren’t they mixing in Spanish neighbourhoods? Why don’t they speak Spanish at home, with their children? Am I supposed to understand German or Romanian?
They speak strange language we can’t comprehend and we feel things inside. Fear, unease, anger. Discomfort. Rejection.
They eat different thing we can’t digest.
They use different clothes we can’t aprove (just maybe as much as they can’t aprove our clothes in their own countries, so…) or we can’t take seriously.
And they do different things when… Why can’t they just do the same as everybody else?
When we demand they do what we do and we can’t accept what they do… Then we really open that dark pit of intolerance. And then we are surprised when they intolerate us for whatever reason. Then we can’t go to other countries and keep doing what we do and disrespect locals… (Many Europeans overseas tend to think the world as their oyster when it isn’t).
(5) CONCLUSION. The refugees are escaping a war. They’re not here to solve the aging demographic. If their countries get better, luckily they’ll go back. And that’s that. We cannot count of people who are here for a period, until the end of the war.
If they’ve grown roots and decided to stay, then they’ll add population to the system. And contribute to society, by paying due taxes and obeying the rule of law.
I don’t care if they bring their culture and they keep cooking grandma’s recipes back from Syria, or they decide to speak their language to their kids. As long as they respect the values of our nations and they can get by as a good citizen. That’s it.
No rejection from my part and no prejudice. Just common sense.
Is immigration a solution to the aging demographic? Well, look at Spain—we’ve had immigrants here for ages. Have they added to the population? Barely. The percentage is so small, it doesn’t even have a punch. We’re still growing old and there aren’t enough kids to replace what we’re losing.
The question is what kind of replacement do we want? Is Europe ONLY about the whiteness and “Europeanness” of its nations and societies? Or is it about the values, the laws and traditions, what we can actually pass on and keep, and innovate and better? Is it about having blue eyes… Or is it about women’s rights for generations to come? What about the freedoms of press and gathering? Is it about more securities in the cities, and steady jobs? Powerful economy? And of course—the continuation of our welfare system: the education, universities; free healthcare; social security; pensions… And quality of life.
I mean, Europe is bigger than petty issues such as race and religion, or nationalism and patriotism. We can work all together to achieve something together; or we can either work against each other, dividing and every man to his own, and at the end of the day we part ways, and that’s that. My nation above everyone else’s. My tribe above everyone else’s. Period.
The demographic bomb is another issue that has NOTHING to do with refugees. And neither should we use them to solve problems we have brought on ourselves… It’s that simple.
And solving this demographic bomb will entail other consequences… Who is going to feed them? Where do we house them? With the evergrowing exploitation and degradation of natural resources and spaces, the decreasing stocks of fish, the increase of pollution (atmosphere, waterways, cities); the overcrowding and planetary overpopulation… The EU will have to face other severe challenges, and it’s not only an aging population. It’s the loss of land to climate change and low productivity/yield of crops… And just bringing more babies into the planet is going to exacerbate all those other problems.
And yes, maybe we keep the European race alive, but in what kind of a world? For how much longer?
The majority of refugees or immigtants, whatever their reference, are not escaping war. They are economic migrants. Most uneducated and without the wherewithal to sustain life with legal employment, even if they get it. Therefore they become an immediate and ongoing burden to society. Those who do find work are paid far less than their home grown equivalent. This reduces the living wage of the indigenous. Reducing the standard of life expectation to the level of the incomer.
And as a side bar, it has nothing whatsoever to do with race. Globalists employ any that cost the least and expect minimal perks, or best, none at all. Not even the right to go to the bathroom without being fined for it.This removes from our entire European community any, hard fought for, western civilisation. Our cultural expectations are being removed at a rate that will leave us all in a seriously reversed existence. Just take a look at old 1940’s and 50’s movies. The civility, education expectations, health provisions of 40 years ago and compare them to today, then spout it is simply a matter of numbers. Or, the most ludicrous of all, race implications.
Culture is the issue, it also covers ethics, breeding patterns ,aspiration, expectation, values, etc.. And do remember, above all, our right under democracy to be informed, protected and to have given subsequent consent after respective government have performed their legal duty toward us. Which is, the opportunity of the people to remove those who do not comply with the wishes of the electorate.
Yes but party only the rest must come from opening our borders for wormigrations
Are refugees the solution to Europe’s ageing population?
Why is this article reported as ‘far right’ disturbance? Why are people who do not want to be invaded by another countries millions of unemployed and possibly dangerous people referred to in the derogatory term of ‘far right.’ What does far right imply strategically? That people who vote left do not care if they are invaded this way? Does that mean they on the left are happy to support these millions replacing their jobs, and in the main, seen to be doing them inadequately?
1. Populations naturally stabilise when a certain level of development, equality and education is reached. Europe’s ageing population is simply a temporary result of of adjusting from the post-war baby boom to more sustainable birth rates.
2. If our social security system is based on ever growing populations, it is basically a Ponzy scheme. Continuous growth is unsustainable within finite space and finite resources. Let’s be perfectly honest: overpopulation is the main cause of environmental destruction, armed conflict, forced migrations, etc. We would all be better off it there were less of us.
3. The modern economy is no longer dependent on the exploitation of cheap labour. It is time to move on to a more equitative and inclusive global economy.
4. The problem of small towns losing populations is the result of young people moving to greater opportunities in larger cities. Migrants and refugees tend to do the same. Expecting them to do the jobs we don’t want, in places we don’t want, for wages we don’t accept, is short-sighted and hypocritical, if not blatant racism.
5. The only solution to the refugee problem is making sure that people can live and thrive in their own countries, and that is not done by stripping resources, financing debt, funding wars and supporting corruption…
Why don’t we rewind and start the syllogism all over again? ….. Before worrying about our “ageing population” in the european Union, let’s be ethical citizens and deal with the refugee – migrant issue on a superior level ….. FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS & HUMAN BEINGS.
Then we can turn selfish and think of said human beings are immigrants within lower age ranges to be new members of our ageing communities.
And speaking about ageing, the process in itself is logically as we have attained solutions to many diseases and persons live longer and stay healthier in the 3rd & 4th. social levels of the age structure. Thus, we are ageing population wish to remain active, contributing towards building a truly social, sustainable community, solidary to those in dire straits due to discrimination, poverty and misery in their own countries.
Here is where we can come to the rescue, in the scope of a global EU strategy of social inclusion for all those who come to part of our developed communities. Each one must chip in, those who already are in europe and those that may have to come to save their lives.
Without ethics and a will for social justice, all efforts to mitigate our ageing problem are senseless.
It doesn’t matter how many times you ask this question, the answer will always be “No”.
Most defiantly not, it would be the end of Western culture & civilisation. The only way to stop the decline is to increase the natural birthrate of ‘Europe’ by dumping the un-natural & suicidal left wing policies imposed over the last 50 years. There’s a reason prisons are full of young men from single parent families and for the massive decline in marriage. If you mess with the natural order then expect to go extinct.
Most defiantly yes.
leave already xD talking about suicidal xD oh and most criminals are normal europeans :)
And humanity doesnt go extinct by using humans to help humans..
Arnout (<- The very definition of an internet troll) We are not leaving 'Europe' comrade, we are only leaving the pointless EU..
The EU average birthrate is 1.55 births per female.
The African average birthrate is 4.5 births per female.
No population can be maintained with a birthrate below 2.1 births per female.
But don’t let facts get in the way after all you have an empire to build, well the migrants will anyway.
Ivan yea babys or migrants :D
Yea the britsh lost hier empire already. We are not looking to build an empire nor are migrants.
Arnout Is that really the best you have ? I can now see why Brussels loves people like you, you will believe & swallow anything they tell you.
Incidentally I have some new clothes once owned by an emperor, I can let you have them cheap if you like.
Arnout We are looking to keep our heritage, culture and women’s right.. Your favorite migrants will honor these principals? Or you will adjust to their “forcefull” culture? TO be hones, I, as a female, woudl like to see the money spent on illegal migrants adn their integration on me, allowing to have more children….
Most defiantly yes.
Ivan why not? There are enough people on the planet so no use making more.
Arnout Depends if you want the future to be an extension of the greatest civilisation the world has ever known or one of the most barbaric.
Ivan the greatest is a nationalistic instinct that i do not share nor ever will. Same as the simplistic view of barbaric.
It shows you do not see humans as humans nor as problems to be solvable. Therefore you cannot ever state or represent the greatest civilisation.
Besides this, the greatest civilisation is one world. Not separate nations like you would like. Nationalism has shown to lead only to war in europe.
Of course not. It is like ” In my country we do not have a lot of births ,okey we will borrow citizens from another country.”
The photos chosen for the discussion topics in “Debating Europe” are very interesting.
When it comes to the issue the refugees in Europe, they choose an image of a woman who is apparently a refugee but white, young and beautiful, well dressed, clean and with children.
Now, when they talk about the old Europeans, they choose a few old people from southern Europe, sitting idle and smoking.
I think publishers of “Debating Europe” love new and exotic women and they don’t like old people sitting in the squares of southern Europe.
US has get 90 % of the Population with immigration in the last 200 years
No morons… the solution is birth solutions like France do . Money ti have kids.. support moters or fathers to stay at home taking ker of the kids
How could this quastion even be asked? This shows, that the ruling class should be banished or worse.
You people asking this quastion prove, that you have to be real garbage. Is this because you are “refugees”, who try and promote import of more “refugees”
Only for those who consider people and cultures replaceable.
It’s the wrong question
Christianity on its own is a big problem for humanity and Europe but Islam would be even worse. It has taken centuries to stop Christians from destroying Greek and Roman art. Islam will simply wipe out any sign of civilization until it becomes mature enough.
migrants, yes, Refugees, no. AS, refugees are … refugees! so, when war it´s over they will return to their countries, right?
are you for real?
Why? Do you think about keeping some of them? Refugee(this sounds temporary to me)..
No. Welfare state and more social security for young families are. Europe should give 20K for every newborn child until a family has at least 2 or 3 children.
Something like “remplacement”? In France, even just talking about this is a crime, even though it is a fact. However, Europe can benefit from an influx of well educated people. The majority of the refugees are however not, many cannot even read or write in their mother tongue.
No. Refugees may be only a temporary solution to the labor market. The key is real reforms and, the first step must be to stop subsidies for agriculture and instead focus resources on science, innovation, the environment.
The moment EU starts taking in refuges from Ukraine I will regard this as a genuine question instead of an agenda to replace the native population of Europe with foreigners.
No, the solution should be social assistance for young families, it’s impossible to work and have 2 or 3 kids. So, subsidi for each kid, 3 months license for each parent to stay home with the just born, good kindergartners at reasonable prices, in other words ” facilities”.
No. Free fertility treatments and financial stability for own nationals may be two of the solutions.
As much as I sympathize with refugees, being the daughter of Greek Cypriot parents who fled Turkey’s war in our north in 1974 to save their lives, I would honestly not like to see the EU becoming colonized by refugees from nations that have a different background and values. It is time to have a debate about what is European.
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