01 Jul 2004

Ageing and Welfare Systems – What Have We Learned?

A Comparative EU-US Perspective

Jørgen Mortensen

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Conference Proceedings and Contributions – 24–25 January 2003, Brussels

During the coming decades the European Union and, indeed, large parts of the world, will be confronted with unprecedented demographic changes, generally characterised as ‘ageing of the population’. In reality, ageing is the combined outcome of two distinct phenomena: firstly the secular decline in mortality and the resulting increase in life expectancy and secondly the pronounced decline in fertility since 1970 in most European countries and which followed the baby boom in the first post-war decade. The decline in fertility during the recent decades is now being reflected in a significant decline in the number of entrants into the labour market, while the baby-boom generations are approaching retirement age. Consequently the ageing of the population will first and most importantly be reflected in a pronounced ageing of the EU labour force. The purpose of this ENEPRI/CEPS conference was to take stock of developments on population ageing, present key papers in the field from inside and outside the ENEPRI Network and, not least, to take stock of the state of research in the Europe and North America. The conference therefore, in particular, devoted a part of the agenda to a general discussion between key researchers in Europe and North America concerning the present situation and to preparing an outline of the research agenda for the coming years.