IRELAND HAS by far the youngest population in Europe, and Irish life expectancy at the age of 65 is rising faster than anywhere else in the EU.
In a report that highlights a “turning point” in the greying of Europe’s 500 million population, the EU Commission said people were living longer and healthier lives, while fertility increased slightly.
The commission said the ageing of Europe was no longer something which would happen in the distant future. “It is happening now. As of 2010, the oldest populations are in Germany and Italy, with median ages respectively 44.2 and 43.1; the youngest by far in Ireland with 34.3.”
Not only has Ireland the youngest population, it also has the lowest proportion of people over 65. “Ireland had the largest proportion of 0-19 year olds, 27.5 per cent, and Germany the smallest, 18.8 per cent.
“Germany had the largest proportion of those aged 65 or over, 20.7 per cent, followed by Italy, 20.2 per cent. The lowest proportion of those aged 65 or over was in Ireland (11.3 per cent), Slovakia (12.3 per cent) and Cyprus (13.1 per cent).”
The commission said people were living longer. It cited a “continuous uniform trend” showing life expectancy rising “at a rate of two to three months every year”.
Figures cited by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency, show that Irish women could expect to live another 20.6 years at the age of 65 in 2009, compared with 17 years in the early 1990s. Similarly, 65-year-old Irish men could expect to live another 17.2 years in 2009 compared with 13.4 years in the prior decade.
“Life expectancy at age 65 has . . . increased in all member states between 1993 and 2009, with the largest increases for both women and men in Ireland,” it said.
The commission's biennial Demography Reportfor 2010 shows that Irish women continue to have the highest fertility rate in Europe, with a total fertility rate in 2009 of 2.07, indicating the mean number of babies born alive to Irish women. The Irish fertility rate compared with the EU average of 1.6.
In addition, Irish women had the highest mean age at childbirth (31.2 years) in Europe. Ireland was also among 13 countries in which women typically have their children when aged 30 or over.
The report also said the recession was changing immigration trends in countries such as Ireland, Spain and Italy. “Ireland, the EU country that experienced one of the fastest increases in immigration at the beginning of the 21st century, already experienced a sharp fall in immigration in 2007, which was combined with a significant increase in emigration, resulting in negative net migration in 2009.”