Societal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic - demographic development and digital transformation
New findings from the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS)
LB – 06/2022
The EPRS has published a new study that describes the impact of the COVID-19
pandemic on demographic development, digital transformation and possible
interactions of both processes in the EU.
latest data initially show that previously existing demographic trends continue
to prevail. These include increasing age, shrinking birth rates and declining
proportions of the working-age population.
Excess mortality increased
specific effects of the pandemic also become clear, which were even stronger in
2021 than in the previous year: For example, "excess mortality"
increased, especially during the particularly high infection waves in April and
November; life expectancy declined in many Member States.
pandemic has also accelerated the digital transformation. In addition to
increasing automation and digitisation of processes and services, this has, for
example, increased the proportion of people working from home and the number of
technologies have the potential to improve or fundamentally change living
standards, life expectancy and quality of life. However, this also potentially
increases the dependency on technology. In addition, the use of digital
technologies requires a certain level of digital skills. According to the
study, however, there are sometimes significant differences between different
demographic groups. "Digital natives" (born 1997 or later) are used
to smartphones and tablets, and most of them have Internet access at home.
Compared to older people, they not only have better technical skills, but also
spend more time on the Internet or in front of a screen.
trend has been exacerbated among current cohorts of students by the COVID-19
pandemic, which has seen school closures and distance learning and contact
restrictions. At the same time, those who have no or only limited access to the internet, technical equipment or digital tools are at risk of exclusion when it
comes to social participation.
Risks of digitisation
the EU, digital transformation is taking place at different speeds. Increased
use of digital technologies is creating new risks, such as cybercrime and
digital fraud, which can affect different groups – demographically as well as
socially or regionally – in different ways.
EU is aware of the multifarious problems. The new working conditions, ethical
and data protection issues have been taken into account and various laws have already been passed.
It also supports relevant initiatives, projects and targeted assistance, e.g.
to overcome the so-called "digital divide". The authors of the EPRS
study recommend continuing to prioritise the development of digital
capabilities, in particular.