New European Member States and the dependent elderly
The ten new Member States who joined the European Union in May 2004 have increased the population of EU-15 by 20% and they together account for almost 16.4% of the total EU-25 population. The current ageing of the population of EU-15 has highlighted other challenges besides the well-known problems of financing pension and health systems. It has also highlighted the risk of dependency. Given the emergence of this new risk, one may wonder about the situation of the aforementioned new members. The present study shows that they do not appear to face the problem of elderly dependency on the same scale as the countries of EU-15, although in the coming decades it is likely they will have to contend with it to a much greater degree. The study also indicates that provision for dependent elderly care in the ten countries does not seem to be fully established as yet. However, Malta and Slovenia, countries which will have a considerable proportion of oldest people among their populations in the near future, are distinguishable from the others in that they appear better prepared in terms of dependent elderly care. Although Poland is considered to be far from prosperous as regards economic and social development, in terms of ageing –particularly provision for the dependent elderly- it appears better placed than most of the other new Member States, who appear to be less generous as regards assistance provided to the dependent elderly. The three Baltic states are distinguishable from the others in that the share of GDP allocated to this category is lowest, even though they are expected to have the oldest population in the coming decades.
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