Paul Lachine

Europe’s Not Got Talent

European policymakers may view the continent’s looming demographic implosion as a distant event that can be addressed later. But, given the scale and complexity of any remedy for Europe’s shrinking stock of skills and talent, the problem needs to be placed at the top of the policy agenda.

GUETERSLOH, GERMANY – Europe is in denial. Policymakers may view the continent’s looming demographic implosion – which soon will be compounded by the baby-boom generation’s exit into retirement – as a distant event that can be addressed later. But, given the scale and complexity of any remedy for Europe’s shrinking stock of skills and talent, the problem needs to be placed at the top of the policy agenda.

Innovation, sustainability, and prosperity all hang in the balance. And, although aging populations are the rule in Europe, the challenges they pose extend far beyond the continent. Indeed, the twenty-first century will be marked by the global onset – for the first time in human history – of peaceful demographic decline.

This process can be visualized as a champagne coupe, with a broad, shallow bowl mounted on a long, thin stem: an ever-slimmer base of young people supports an ever-increasing number of senior citizens, placing social-security systems under growing strain as the ratio of pensioners to the working-age population rises.

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