Longer lives significantly contributing to European economies, new reports claims

A series of reports published by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) highlights the economic opportunities of longer lives across Europe. According to the reports, older people’s contributions across the European region are significant, and growing. The reports call for countries to better support older people’s economic contributions, particularly through greater investment in preventative health measures that support healthy ageing – the authors call for governments to invest at least 6 percent of their health budgets on these interventions, such as vaccines, screenings, early detection and management of disease.

Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • In Germany, 77% of people aged 50-64 are in employment.
  • In France, nearly 1 in 3 workers is aged 50+.
  • By 2035, almost 3 in 5 (59%) of workers could be aged 50 and over in Italy.
  • Over 6 out of every 10 euros in the Spanish economy were spent by households led by those aged 50+ in 2015.
  • By 2040, 63p in every pound in the UK economy will be spent by older households.
  • Across the EU and Turkey, older people’s caring and volunteering contributes more to the economy than what those countries spend on defense.

However, the report also warns that the key barrier to realising these opportunities is poor health – limiting people’s ability to stay active as they age. Comparing countries across the G2o, the “Health equals wealth” reports highlight that:

  • In countries that spend more on health, older people work, spend and volunteer more.
  • Increasing preventative health spending by just 0.1 percentage can unlock a 9% increase in annual spending by older people and an additional 10 hours of volunteering each year.

Earlier this year, the European Commission adopted its Green Paper on Ageing, which set out a vision for countries to adapt to their ageing populations, including how to support healthy ageing.

However, to date, there have been no announcements of an intended White Paper or binding commitments. An open letter sent last week by the ILC Europe Network, a pan-European network on longevity, called on the Commission to ensure this is followed up by concrete and meaningful action.

“It’s vital that this Green Paper should not be put on a shelf to gather dust, but instead be a step towards a concerted European response to ageing. [We are] calling for an EU White Paper on Ageing that commits to making European policy and practice work for all ages”, call the signatories.