ESPON, 2010

The aim of the project is to assess future changes in population growth, the size of the labour force and the ageing of the population, and to explore different policy options aiming at regional competitiveness and territorial cohesion.

DEMIFER scenarios link policy bundles to demographic effects using two dimensions: Distribution-Fairness and Economy – Environment. At one end of the Economy-Environment dimension we envisage a situation where sustainable growth has been achieved through technical and social innovation. At the other end of dimension we envisage a situation where the environmental challenges have not been met and growth as traditionally measured has fallen. The Distribution-Fairness dimension varies from a bundle of policies designed to achieve social solidarity on the one end, to a set of polices designed to improve the operation of markets and the achievement of greater competitiveness in a global market on the other end.Combining the two dimensions produces four policy scenarios, which we call:

  • Growing Social Europe (GSE)
  • Expanding Market Europe (EME)
  • Limited Social Europe (LSE)
  • Challenged Market Europe (CME)

Each of these scenarios is associated with a set of policies that we may expect to impact, to a greater or lesser degree, future patterns of mortality, fertility and migration.

As the growth of the labour force does not just depend on the size of the working age population but also on the level of labour force participation rates, alternative assumptions on future changes in labour force participation rates are included in the specification of the scenarios.Effects of policies on the labour force:

  • If labour force participation rates stay the same, the total size of the labour force will decline by 17% until 2050 and it will grow in only 25% of the regions. The four policy scenarios on labour force participation provide an array of possible territorial trends in Europe and distinguish some of the effects of policies.
  • Only under favourable economic conditions (high extra-European migration and increased activity rates - as in the EME and GSE scenarios) will the total size of the labour force increase by 2050. However 35 and 40 % of the regions in the EME and GSE scenarios respectively will still face a decline in the size of the labour force by 10% or more by 2050.
  • If economic conditions are poor (activity rates decline or stay the same and immigration is low - as in the LSE and CME scenarios), regions will experience a decline in the labour force. Further, 55-70% of the regions will experience a decline of the labour force by 10% or more and even decrease by 30% or more in most of the eastern and southern European regions.
  • As shown in the table below, over 50% of all NUTS2 regions in Europe will experience both an increase in population and labour force in the GSE and EME scenarios, while only 20-30% of the regions in the LSE and CME scenarios see an increase in both of these.

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