Demographic change poses major challenges
to politics, the economy and society. Demographic change will also have an
impact on social security systems and the sustainability of their financing.
This makes it all the more important to analyse the driving forces and seek
The European Commission took a first step
towards this in June 2020. It published its demographic change report, in which it analysed the main drivers and
consequences for Europe's social market economy (see reports 6-2020 and 9-2020). It intends to present a Green Paper on ageing in
the spring of 2021 based on the findings of this report.
In November 2020, the Commission presented its "Roadmap" to the Green Paper, setting out the
objectives of the initiative and the way forward. Accordingly, the Green Paper
seeks to open a debate on the long-term implications of demographic change,
especially with regard to care and pensions as well as the promotion of active
ageing. In this context, it was also necessary to examine whether social
security systems were meeting the needs of an ageing population.
The demographic trend poses challenges to
the employment, pension and financing concepts within the social security
systems, for which solutions must be found. Therefore, the umbrella
organisations of the German Social Insurance entered the discussion at an early
stage based of the report published in June with an Opinion on issues such as a comprehensive preventive
approach to maintaining health and employability, the prevention of old-age
poverty and a resilient health and care system.
In view of the declining number of
employees subject to social security contributions, the German Social Insurance
System has used the roadmap and the consultation initiated to reiterate the importance of maintaining employability in
order to sustain the financing of social security systems and for cushioning
the consequences of demographic change.
Health promotion and prevention
In order to enable the longest possible and
healthy participation in working life, health promotion and prevention should
play a central role throughout a person’s entire working life, whilst taking
into account changes in potential stresses. A stronger focus on rehabilitation
and reintegration strategies, support for individuals in coping with chronic
diseases, and cooperating with employers in making work more healthy and in
line with ageing throughout a person’s working life will help to maintain
employability and reduce the burden on the social security systems, on both the
revenue and expenditure sides.
Work design in line with ageing is about
creating working conditions that enable employees of all age groups to make
full use of their potential, whilst simultaneously avoiding inappropriate
physical strain in order to ensure that the demands of the workplace are met up
to the normal retirement age.
cases where it is not possible to pursue the occupation until retirement age as
the activities involved lead to particular physical or mental stress must also
be taken into account. To address these cases, health promotion, prevention and
occupational safety measures should be complemented by workplace management and
HR development measures, which will provide the involved persons with
opportunities for timely career changes and enable them to remain employable.
In addition to addressing the long-term
consequences of demographic change with regard to health, care and pensions,
these aspects should also be included in the debate, as they are of fundamental
importance for active ageing and the maintenance of employability as well as
for sustaining the financing of social security systems.