G8 employment ministers discuss problems of ageing populations

Secretary of state for work and pensions Alan Johnson is meeting employment ministers from the top eight industrialised nations today to discuss the challenges posed by rapidly ageing populations.

The ministers are meeting in London to discuss the need to address the implications of ageing societies and how to raise employment rates, particularly for older workers.

All G8 countries will face the same situation in the coming years. The proportion of the population over 65 will rise:

  • in the UK from 16% in 2005 to nearly 20% in 2025
  • in Japan from 20% to 29%
  • in Germany from  just under 19% to 24%
  • in France from just under 17% to nearly 23%.

Employment rates for people aged 55 to 64 stand at 55.5% in the UK, compared to 39% for Germany; 36.8% for France and 30.3% for Italy. However, in the USA, the rate is 59.9%.

Johnson said: “All countries need to face up to the consequences of an ageing society. A declining working age population means we need to redouble our efforts to get as many people in employment as possible so that they are able to save and plan for their retirement.

“If we take the right steps today, we can avoid problems in the future. In the UK we have one of the best labour markets in the world but we plan to go even further and are aiming for an 80% employment rate, which could mean an extra one million older workers in jobs.”

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