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News announcement17 October 2023Joint Research Centre2 min read

Response to demographic change should put more focus on adapting policies

Influencing global demographic trends is challenging. Response to demographic change should also focus on adapting policies to the consequences of demographic change, a new JRC report shows.  

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Response to demographic change should put more focus on adapting policies
© TeraVector - 2023

Demographic trends, such as population ageing, changes in family structures, urbanisation and international migration are complex processes, influenced by a wide range of social, economic, cultural, and political factors.

Primarily determined by life choices that individuals and families make, demographic trends are deeply rooted in cultural and social norms that vary across countries and regions. They have implications for global economic, environmental, societal, and geopolitical developments.

Demographic change occurs gradually as part of long-term processes of modernisation, urbanisation as well as economic and human development, and often take decades to manifest. This is why demographic trends are challenging to influence.

Adapting policies to address future demographic challenges

Responding to a survey conducted by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the UN Population Division, demography experts from across the world expressed their views on the future of fertility, mortality and migration, as well as the role of policies to address the consequences of demographic change.

The survey results show that fertility rates are expected to remain low in Europe for reasons such as individual preferences, but also economic uncertainty and rising housing costs. The experts also believe that medical advances and health-conscious behaviours will continue to drive up life expectancy, which also raises concerns about the resilience of healthcare systems and health inequalities across Europe.

Overall, the results of the survey, published in the JRC Technical Report, indicate that the demographic challenges of the future may not have straightforward demographic solutions. Instead, addressing these challenges is likely to require an emphasis on enhancing the adaptive capacities of societies. This includes adapting policies to the consequences of demographic change in areas such as health, education and employment.

Global demographic projections, produced by international institutions, now largely agree on the projected population trends until 2050. This means that today we have the knowledge about how the global demography is likely to evolve over the next thirty years, which makes it easier to plan policy responses.

By providing evidence on the main factors shaping future population trends, the survey results support the European Commission in its efforts to mainstream demography concerns across all policies.

Atlas of Demography: part of EU toolbox to manage demographic change

The survey results have informed the Commission’s Communication “Demographic change in Europe: a toolbox for action”, published on 11 October, which presents a set of policy tools available to Member States for managing demographic change and its impacts on the EU's society and economy, including its global competitiveness.

As part of this toolkit, the JRC’s Atlas of Demography will be further developed into a dynamic platform for the creation and dissemination of knowledge about demography at EU level, facilitating the exchange between Member States.

The latest thematic data story of the Atlas of Demography illustrates the key findings from the global experts’ survey on demographic change, and provides reflections on the possible policy implications.


Publication date
17 October 2023
Joint Research Centre
JRC portfolios

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