Pensions and care in old age – Silver Wave


Pensions and care in old age

Pension expenditure currently ranges from 8% of GDP in Estonia to 16% in Italy. This variation stems both from differences in the proportion of pensioners between countries and from differences in the generosity of pensions.

-As the EU population ages, the level of expenditure on pensions is set to rise significantly. Pension expenditure as a proportion of European GDP is expected to increase by 14.2% in the years leading up to 2060.

-The average earner in Greece can expect to receive close to 100% of their previous income from the state upon retirement, while in Estonia the average earner receives just one quarter.


  • In 2010 healthcare expenditure in the EU-27 was around 7% of GDP.
  • Projections of healthcare expenditure in the future are very dependent on the assumptions made surrounding demographic, evolution of healthcare costs and technological trends.
  • The European Commission’s reference scenario puts healthcare spending at 8.2% of GDP in 2050 in the EU-27. Although, based on different scenario’s they predict spending could be between 6.7% and 12.6% of GDP13.
  • In 2012, 20.0% of Europeans over 65 said they had difficulty accessing Primary Healthcare services. 33.8% of those over 65 had ‘some’ self-perceived long-standing limitations in usual activities due to a health problem, while 21.1% stated that this limitation was severe.

Care in old age

  • In 2011 in the EU-28, social protection expenditure14 devoted to old age amounted to 0.5% of GDP, or €2,585 per inhabitant. These costs depend not only on the number of older people in society, but also on the level of benefits governments choose to provide. Thus they are highly variable across different EU countries and their future costs are hard to predict.
  • Social protection expenditure on old age currently ranges from over €5,000 per capita in Denmark to less than €500 in Bulgaria.

Housing inadequate, yet expensive, for millions of older people

  • In the EU roughly 1 in 8 of those over 65 said their house was not comfortably warm during winter.
  • Over 1 in 6 said they had difficulty accessing groceries.
  • 1 in 6 had difficulty accessing public transport.
  • Pensioners in Portugal and Bulgaria were particularly cold with 52.7% and 44.5% respectively living in cold dwellings.

The pensioner poverty problem

  • In 2012, 17 million Europeans over 65 were defined as at risk of poverty and 14 million were materially deprived.
  • Both measures of poverty show substantial variation across different European countries.
  • The proportion of older people at risk of poverty ranges from 30% (Switzerland) to 6% (Netherlands). Material deprivation rates range from 72.9% (Bulgaria) to 1% (Sweden). Material deprivation among the over 65s is concentrated in Eastern and Southern Europe.
  • The regional pattern of deprivation among the over 65s is similar to the regional spread of material deprivation among the total European population. However, in everywhere except Eastern Europe, material deprivation is lower among the over 65s.

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