Une Europe vieillissante dans un monde jeune

Alors que l'on approche du cinquantenaire de l'UE, l'Europe vieillit et prend conscience que son évolution démographique conduit à des transformations inéluctables. Les cinquante premières années de l'UE ont été marquées par une forte natalité et une population active importante. La génération du "baby boom" d'après-guerre a connu une période de croissance économique soutenue qui a renforcé la position de l'Europe dans le monde et permis une amélioration spectaculaire de la qualité de vie.

Mais les cinq prochaines décennies verront le départ à la retraite de cette génération, laissant à une population active de plus en plus réduite le fardeau de payer leur retraite et leurs soins de santé. En 2050, 36% des Européens auront plus de 60 ans et malgré l'allongement de l'espérance de vie, en raison de la faiblesse du taux de fécondité, la population commencera à diminuer vers 2020.

L'Europe ne va sans doute pas s'appauvrir à cause de cette évolution, mais elle pourrait traverser une longue période de faible croissance. Toutes choses étant égales, le revenu par habitant et la productivité augmentent moins vite dans les pays dont la population est âgée. Aussi, la puissance économique de l'Europe dans le monde pourrait-elle chuter.

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