Health and Long-Term Living: Trends and Best Practices in Europe

This scenario shows that , as a result of population growth, the ageing threshold would reach the age of 78 in 2006; this threshold recalls Giarini’s theory (Giarini, 2001) that takes into consideration a working age population from 18 to 77 years instead of the traditional gap 15-64: “we must reconsider, above all, our cultural values, understanding that today the elderly are young: and that, since the value of human beings is linked to their productive activity and to their active efforts, the greatest political and social challenge of the coming years will be this: to involve ever more fully all those between the ages of 18 and 78 in the undertaking to create and maintain the wealth of nations”. Giarini continues “At age 60 elderly workers could begin a period of gradual retirement while continuing to actively contribute, giving the young the benefit of their experience, and thanks to a process of continuous education, preparing themselves for new activities either paid or unpaid”.

Table 6: Summary indicators of ageing in Italy2, 1951, 2001, 2006 and 2020
Source: Istat, Census data (1951-2001, de jure population), Resident population by age, sex and marital status on 1st January2006 and National population projection by age and sex (2020).

Comparing Table 6 with Table 1, the demographic indicators on ageing would be more bounded given the re-inclusion of the population over 65 which is currently excluded from the industrial system in productive activity.
Thus, the young generation contribution would appear less pressing and this would help to reduce sustainability problems created by the consequences of ageing on the economic and social system, hence producing a new balance between young and old people. This hypothesis is characterised by a limited number of old people which comes to approx. one third compared to the over 65s.
However, because of the demographic growth, the population over the ageing threshold is destined to increase even if at a more limited rhythm compared to that over the traditional threshold.
Another hypothetical scenario called ‘the recovery of adult people (IV scenario)’, provides a progressive exit from labour market in particular age classes, using part-time in order to improve the economic balance and welfare state through a yearly increase in the standard contribution.
In particular, it can be assumed that:
• 18-29 years old, progressive labour market entry using the part-time system;
• 65-79 years old, progressive labour market exit using the part-time system;
• 30-64 years old, full time in labour market;
• over 80 years old, exit from the labour market.
According to this hypothesis, the number of standard contribution years would rise to 46,5 years3 instead of the current number of years assumed to be equal to 40.
If we consider the ‘dependent population’ as the addition of one half of the 18 and 29 years old population, one half of the 65-79 years old population and the population over 80, as ‘old people’, the outcome is that the ageing threshold guaranteeing the same number of ‘equivalent old people’ is exactly equal to 65 years in 2006.
The difference between the number of people over 65 (11.592.335) and the number of ‘equivalent old people’ (11.356.719) is the so called ‘demographic treasure’ which is equal to 235.616 persons per year and corresponding amount of money in the social system.
This new hypothetical form of entry and exit to/from the labour market through the part-time system, would guarantee a greater balance between younger and older generations, hence obtaining more standard contribution years and ‘including a number of people, the so called ‘demographic treasure’, among the younger generation.
All these scenarios, which might appear ‘paradoxes’, are due to the determination of the ‘ties’ of the problem, an economic tie (i.e. fixing the number of old people enables us to set the amount of expenses); these hypotheses are based on the awareness that old people today live longer and in improved conditions and therefore they still represent an important source not only for the economic system, but also for the social and cultural systems.
The traditional threshold based on the demographic age, does not respond to the changed needs. Taking into account the differences between today’s situation and past situations of the elderly, it would probably be more useful to consider the counter ageing of the population in terms of working population.
The shifting of the ageing threshold would also allow a new balance between the young and the old generations, thus bringing about a better bearing of current problems due to the combination of low and late fertility and the growing of number of old people.
To sum up, the working age extension might represent a crucial element towards the ‘counter ageing revolution’.

2 These summary indicators of ageing are built up as written below:
Ageing ratio: the ratio of the elderly (the grey pressure, those 78 years and over) to the young population (under 15 years of age).
Dependency ratio: the ratio of the economically dependent part of the population to the productive part: arbitrary defined as the ratio of the elderly (the grey pressure, those 78 years and over) plus the young (the green pressure, those under 18 years of age) to the population in the ‘working’ ages (those 18-77 years of age).
Dependency ratio (only grey pressure): the ratio of the elderly (the grey pressure, those 78 years and over) to the population in the ‘working’ ages (those 18-77 years of age).
3 [1/2 P(18-29)+1/2(65-79) + 1P(30-64)+0P(80-ω)]=46,5 standard contribution years.


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