The European Commission has recently published a survey on active ageing to understand citizens’ views and attitudes towards older people. The survey examines the contribution of older people in the workplace and society, as well as how best to promote the active role of older people in society.

Active ageing is important because we are all living longer and median age is increasing. This presents a number of challenges for welfare systems and public finances. EU Member States spend almost a quarter of their GDP on social protection. Most of this goes on older people in the form of pensions, health services and long-term care. The current economic crisis has left Member States with large public deficits and public debt burden just at a time when the post-war baby-boomers are entering their sixties and starting to retire. The key issue today is how to secure good social protection in an increasingly challenging economic and demographic context.

Opinions obtained through the survey indicate that there is still a need to increase awareness of ageing. While the majority of Europeans (71%) are aware that the population is getting older, only 42% are concerned by this. Citizens in Portugal, Greece and Bulgaria seem to feel more concerned than other Europeans, whereas people in the Netherlands and Sweden seem to be least concerned.

Do you have ideas and suggestions for the European Year? A slogan? A nice picture, story or video clip that would illustrate the benefits of active ageing? Summit it to the Commission via their website.

Photo courtesy OlsenWeb