Depopulation and ageing: Two close friends

Despoblación y envejecimiento: Dos amigos íntimos - Sociedad, Economía

Europe ages little by little and the reality is that the population pyramid has nothing to do with what we knew years ago. With this in mind, a clear need arises to build a new approach, an integrated and innovative approach, which allows society to adapt to what is coming. Brussels, according to several experts, has the potential to launch a "European Silicon Valley", an area dedicated to new technologies and where we can find answers to the different problems and needs that arise.

Rural areas, for example, face a real and complex challenge, which must be approached with an intelligent approach. The concept of "smart cities" begins to bear fruit in Europe, with Berlin or Manchester at the head. Now, and seeing the growing depopulation of rural areas and their consequent ageing, some point out that it is time to talk about the "smart villages", taking advantage of what is already working in the cities, designing strategies and applying the appropriate technologies to revitalize the rural areas, reverse the trend towards depopulation and protect people from rural poverty.

These areas face specific challenges that require specific solutions. Ageing populations, lack of services (medical, health, transport and energy) and limited internet connection should be addressed.

This concept, proposed by the European Union, aims to create habitable villages where people can and want to live, because innovative and digital solutions improve their lifestyle. New business models and platforms based on the shared economy, which are currently concentrated in urban areas, are excellent examples.

High-speed Internet connectivity and adequate digital knowledge could attract new employment opportunities and create a favorable environment for the economic growth of the villages. Education in remote areas could be revitalized using digital platforms and thus be converted into attractive areas for living.

Rural areas are increasingly isolated from developing areas or urban centers, presenting, in general, an ageing population, a decline in birth rates, a significant loss of young people and, consequently, an insufficient active population.

Low birth rathes

The other side of the coin. The business consultant, founder and director of the Renaissance Demographic Foundation, Alejandro Macarrón, recently warned of the danger of the demographic situation that exists in Spain: "we have provinces where, for every baby born, more than two people die, this relationship is moving closer to one to three. "

Spain has one of the lowest birth rates in the European Union, with an average of 1.27 children born per woman of childbearing age, compared to the EU average of 1.55. Its economic crisis has led to a flight from the country, as hundreds of thousands of Spaniards have decided to leave in the hope of finding work abroad. The result is that, since 2012, the population of Spain has been shrinking.

"Most people think that we are only talking about something that will be a problem in 50 years, but we are already seeing part of the problem," said Macarrón.

In Portugal, the population has been declining since 2010. For many, the question is: how far will this go? Projections from the National Institute of Statistics suggest that the population of Portugal could fall from 10.5 million to 6.3 million by 2060.

The Eurostat agency of the EU estimates that by the year 2050, Portugal will be the country in Europe with the lowest proportion of children, with only 11.5% of the population under 15 years of age.

In Italy, the retired population continues to rise, with a proportion of people over 65 years of age increasing from 2.7% last year to 18.8% in 2050. Germany has the lowest birth rate in the world: 8.2 per cent. every 1,000 inhabitants between 2008 and 2013, according to a study of the Institute of world economy with headquarters in Hamburg, the HWWI and thus if we look at all the countries of the EU.

The declining birth rate of the country has multiple causes, such as the lack of financial security that drives many Italians to live with their parents until they are 30 years old. The difficulty for mothers to return to the workplace also means that women must make considerable sacrifices if they decide to have children.