What is greying of Europe?

The greying of Europe is also known as the ageing of Europe. Ageing of a population means an expansion in size of the middle aged population of an area. So the ageing of Europe refers that the median age of the inhabitants of Europe is rising with the passage of time. It is happening due to various factors.


The main reasons behind the ageing of Europe are;

  • A decline in fertility
  • A decline in mortality rate
  • A higher life expectancy among European populations

A decline in fertility means lower birth rates in Europe. Fertility rates in Europe have been under than the 2.1 children per woman standard level and are predicted to stay below the standard level in the future. Individuals are living longer with projections of avg. life expectancy achieving 84.6 years for males and 89.1 for females by 2060, an expansion of 7.9 years of life for males and 6.6 years of life for females contrasted with 2010.

A decline in mortality rate is due to the provision of good M & C health care as well as better health facilities to the developed population of Europe which in turn has also increased the average life of the inhabitants.


In the middle of 2017, the global population reached nearly 7.6 billion as per the results of the 2017 Revision. In 2017, 9 percent of the world’s population was below age five, 26 % was under age fifteen, 13% was aged sixty or above and  2% was aged eighty or over. It is determined that the old/ aged population around the globe will reach 2.1 billion by 2050.

However in the case of Europe, 25% of the total population is already aged sixty years or over and that proportion is estimated to reach 35% in 2050 and 36% in 2100. Populations in other regions are also anticipated to age notably over the coming decades. Surprisingly, the United States is estimated to only hit a median age of 42 by 2060, which is less than almost all European countries.


Low birth rates and higher life expectancy resulting in graying led to the alteration of pyramid shape of the population of Europe.

The most prominent changes are as following;

  • Increase in the no. of retired people.
  • A decline in the proportion of working age
  • Increase in the need for an early working population
  • A high burden on young working people as they are responsible to feed the older population

IMF has forecasted in the year 2006 that the proportion of the retired population to working population in Europe will double to 0.54 by 2050 i.e. from 4 workers per retiree to 2 workers per retiree. There will be more pressure on young occupants.

Ex European Commissioner for RIS (Research, Innovation, and Science), clearly mentioned that one-fourth of the inhabitants of Europe will be 60 years or above by 2020. This drastic change in population demographics will entirely transform supply and demand in every market of Europe like health, food, economic, safety, social security and labor markets of the western world.

OECD also anticipates that thirty-nine percent of European occupants work who are between the ages of 55 to 65.

The western world is going to face a lot of challenges with this greying like increasing healthcare budgets, shifting cities and enhancing dependency ratios.

UN has predicted exactly in previous year that the many countries in the First world will start reaching a median age of 50 or higher. The affected areas will include Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece, and then later Germany, Poland, Bosnia, and Croatia. The slightly young countries will be UK, France, Ireland, Scandinavia, and Ex-Soviet countries. By 2060, median ages in these regions will be mid-forties.

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