Demographic trends are changing the appearance of the continent, the faces of those who live there. In 2018 – Eurostat data report (January 2020) – the share of over-65s in the European population has reached 19% and the proportion of people aged 80 and over will more than double in 2100, to 14.6% of the total population. In short, the "old continent" is becoming more and more.
In this trend, among other things, Italy holds a lead in Europe: if today the share of over 65s is equal to a third, still lower than that of other countries, in 2050 our banner will rise to the top of this special ranking, with a share practically doubled (65.8%). Moreover, Italy also has another record on the continent, that of the country with the fewest young people. The proportion of the population up to 14 years is constantly decreasing and has increased in a decade from 14.1% in 2008 to 13.4% in 2018. On the opposite side are countries such as Ireland (20.8%), France (18.1%) or Belgium (17%) where the share of young people is much higher.
If the trend does not reverse or if there are no flows of immigrants to compensate for such imbalances, countries such as Italy will find it increasingly difficult to support a pension system that is built on a pay-as-you-go scheme, in which pensions are paid with contributions from working workers.
These numbers, of course, loom large, as the outcome of the ongoing pandemic to change the mortality indicators of the population (especially for the over-60s, where most deaths are concentrated).
These effects could also have an impact on pensions, especially on the cohorts of current (more than future) retirees. At the end of April, Istat President Gian Carlo Blangiardo formulated some possible demographic scenarios in the event of a rapid end to the pandemic or, on the contrary, its protracted over time for a longer period (until November).
Well, the increase in the annual frequency of deaths would vary from 34 to 123 thousand cases with a decrease in life expectancy from 0.42 to 1.4 years. Even in the worst case scenario, however, the structural trend of progressive ageing of the population would not be reversed, albeit at a slower pace.