As 2012 is coming to an end, the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations is coming to an end too. Many countries will be affected by ageing populations. Selim Jahan, Director on Poverty Practice of UNDP stated recently that “every second two people turn 60, somewhere in the world”. Projections of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) show that by 2050 there will be 33 countries with 10 million persons over 60, including in 22 developing countries.
A similar trend is seen within the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK has seen an increase of the median age from 35.4 years to 39.7 years between 1985 and 2010. By 2035 the median age is expected to be 42 years. In the same report the ONS stated “the UK population is ageing and is projected to continue ageing over the next few decades with the fastest population increases in the numbers of those aged 85 and over”. Although the ageing of the British population has implications for the spending of public money, an ageing population also has many benefits. In March 2011 research for the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) reported that retired people contribute almost £40bn more to the UK economy than their overall costs to society. The UN reported that older people are increasingly seen as contributors to development, and have the ability to act for the betterment of themselves and their societies. Older people often take up volunteering after they retire as a means of giving something back to society, or use it as a means to make the transition process from a life with a paid job to a life without a job easier.
During a conference last November, the European Commissioner on Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, stated that “Although it is too early to assess the impact of the Year for Active Ageing, it has certainly mobilised a wide range of stakeholders and showcased many new initiatives to promote active ageing and strengthen solidarity between generations.”
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