Growing old wisely in Bulgaria
September 20, 2013
New World Bank report says economic impact of Bulgaria’s aging population can be mitigated
SOFIA, Bulgaria, September 20, 2013 – Bulgaria is facing a steeper decline in working age population than any other country in the world, according to the World Bank’s new report Mitigating the Economic Impact of an Aging Population: Options for Bulgaria. However, policy reform and strategic action in several key areas can help lessen the impacts brought on by ongoing demographic shifts and help steer the country toward a more inclusive future that provides for young and old Bulgarians alike.
In 1960, the median age of a Bulgarian was just over 30. In 2012, the median age was almost 43. Today, only two European countries have populations that are older than Bulgaria: Germany and Italy. By 2050, one in three Bulgarians is projected to be older than 65 and only one in two Bulgarians will be of working age.
The new World Bank report launched today in Sofia takes a long-term view to assess the effect of population aging on the economic and public services.
“Bulgaria is facing an extraordinary demographic challenge. At the same time it is clear that it has many options to successfully mitigate its impact,” says Doerte Doemeland, a Senior Economist in the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia region, and main author of the report. “Growing older does not mean growing less. The earlier policy actions are taken, the earlier the elderly of the future will benefit.”
The successful policy mix suggested by the report includes activities in the following directions:
- Increasing productivity so that fewer workers produce more;
- Investing in education to keep the skills of an aging population current;
- Increasing the labor force by providing employment opportunities for all population groups;
- Reducing the pension deficit to slow-down the increase in public debt;
- Providing pensions to all so that none are left out;
- Improving the health sector so that Bulgarians enjoy long and healthy lives;
- Scaling up long-term care so that elderly in need of care are taken care of; and
- Increasing savings: Saving for the future.
“The World Bank will continue to share experiences, knowledge, and ideas to help Bulgaria meet the aging challenge, and achieve shared prosperity for all,” emphasized Mamta Murthi, Director for Central Europe and the Baltic Countries in the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia region.