Future trends in the economically active population (scenarios)

The economically active population forecast is based on a dual forecast: an economic activity rate forecast and a demographic forecast. The estimated labour force is obtained by combining the activity rate forecast and the population forecast.

A series of age and sex specific characteristics were selected as explanatory factors for the activity rate. These are the share of persons in education and training (by type of education and training), the distribution of the population by the highest level of education completed, the average number of children, the share of disabled persons, the share of persons in early retirement and the share of persons working beyond the legal retirement age. A series of assumptions about the evolution of these characteristics over the forecast period is then made based on the assumption that the activity rate will continue to depend on these elements in the years ahead.

Three baseline scenarios were calculated: a reference scenario plus a "high" and a "low" scenario that combine assumptions which are more or less favourable to labour force growth. Furthermore, seven variations were calculated to study the specific effects of certain assumptions.

According to this reference scenario, the activity rate of 15 to 64 year olds will remain practically unchanged between 2020 and 2050 (increase by +0.1 point to 84.5%). In contrast, the activity rate of those aged 15 and over will be strongly influenced by the ageing of the population and will decline by 5.6 points (from 68.3% to 62.7%) between 2020 and 2050. Over the same period, the number of persons aged 65 or more per 100 economically active persons aged 20 to 64 in the economically active population will rise from 35.6 to 53.3. The economically active population will continue to grow to reach 5.604 million persons until 2050 (+11.2% compared with 2020).

Economically active population forecast according to the reference scenario, 2020-2050
  Economically active population, in '000 Gross economic activity rate (total population), in % No. of persons aged 65 and over per 100 economically active persons between the ages of 20 and 64
2020 5038 58.0 33.6
2025 5167 57.0 36.3
2030 5283 56.0 40.5
2035 5389 55.2 46.0
2040 5479 54.7 50.4
2045 5549 54.2 53.3
2050 5604 53.7 55.7

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