Adaptation is necessary
Germany’s demographic transition set in early. Therefore, the country has had to respond to the challenges of an ageing society earlier than others. Economic prosperity, better education opportunities and improved health systems have increased life expectancy over recent decades in all industrialised countries. This has been accompanied by falling birth rates. Societies have already adapted to these changes in some policy areas: the population in employment continues to grow, the retirement age has increased to 67, educational levels have improved and more skilled workers have migrated to Germany. Further efforts are needed to guarantee economic prosperity and maintain the efficiency of Germany’s social security system in future – especially as the baby-boomers’ cohort is only just starting to retire.
Organising an ageing society
As demographic change contributes to longevity, individual gains in healthy ageing are huge. Today, elderly citizens over 65 who were once considered frail are still mobile at retirement age and contribute to society. However, they will require support at some point. While family members still provide the lion’s share of elderly care work today, fewer children will be able to do so in future. Tomorrow’s senior citizens may not have children at all and if they do, they often live far away. Therefore, the state must ensure the provision of care to a greater extent than in the past. This also includes supporting “substitute families” in the form of inter-generational families and small-scale support networks.
Dealing with demographic change
Coping with demographic change requires evidence-based analysis and realistic targets and standards. The Berlin Institute conducts such research and provides valuable information. In addition to data analysis, we use qualitative survey methods to illustrate how individuals "on the ground" perceive and respond to quantitatively measurable demographic change. Based on this research, the Berlin Institute develops solutions and recommendations for policy-makers, businesses and civil society.