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The proportion of the population in the European Union (EU) who are aged 55 and over rose from 25% in 1990 to 30% in 2010, and is estimated to reach around 40% by 2060. In connection with the demographic challenges presented by this increase, the European Union has designated 2012 as the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. Active ageing means that older age groups have the opportunity to stay in the workforce and share their experience, to keep playing an active role in society and to live as healthy and fulfilling lives as possible.
To mark the European Year, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, issues a new publication "Active ageing and solidarity between generations, a statistical portrait of the European Union 2012", prepared in collaboration with the European Commission's Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and Eurofound, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. This publication presents data on topics such as demography, employment, transition from work to retirement, healthcare, living conditions and participation in society.
The share of persons aged 55 and over in the total population increased between 1990 and 2010 in all member states. In 2010, the largest shares of those aged 55 to 64 were observed in Finland (14.7% of the total population), the Czech Republic and Malta (both 14.1%), and the lowest in Ireland (10.1%), Lithuania (10.7%) and Luxembourg (10.8%). For the age group 65 and over, the highest shares were found in Germany (20.7%), Italy (20.2%) and Greece (18.9%), and the lowest in Ireland (11.3%), Slovakia (12.3%) and Cyprus (13.1%).
Employment of the older population has strongly increased over the last decade. While the employment rate for those aged 20 to 64 in the EU increased by +2.1 percentage points (from 66.5% in 2000 to 68.6% in 2010), the rates for older age groups rose more sharply, by +10.6 percentage points for those aged 55 to 59 (from 50.3% to 60.9%) and by +7.5 percentage points for those aged 60 to 64 (from 23.0% to 30.5%). The employment rate remained at around 5% for those aged 65 and over.
In 2010, the highest employment rates for those aged 55 to 59 were observed in Sweden (80.7%), Denmark (75.9%) and Finland (72.5%), and the lowest in Poland (45.8%), Slovenia (46.9%) and Malta (49.3%). For those aged 60 to 64 the highest rates were recorded in Sweden (61.0%), the United Kingdom (44%) and Estonia (42.8%), and the lowest in Hungary (13%), Malta (14.2%) and Slovakia (17.2%). For those aged 65 and over, the highest employment rates were found in Portugal (16.5%), Romania (13.0%) and Cyprus (12.9%), and the lowest in France and Slovakia (both 1.6%) and Hungary (1.9%).
The European Union includes Belgium (BE), Bulgaria (BG), the Czech Republic (CZ), Denmark (DK), Germany (DE), Estonia (EE), Ireland (IE), Greece (EL), Spain (ES), France (FR), Italy (IT), Cyprus (CY), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Luxembourg (LU), Hungary (HU), Malta (MT), The Netherlands (NL), Austria (AT), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Romania (RO), Slovenia (SI), Slovakia (SK), Finland (FI), Sweden (SE) and the United Kingdom (UK).