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Seminar on General Active Ageing Issues 7 April 2014

On April 7th, 2014, the Ministry of Welfare of Latvia hosted a seminar on general active ageing issues. This seminar was the first one within the project "Latvia: Developing a Comprehensive Active Ageing Strategy for Longer and Better Working Lives". Participants of the seminar were introduced with a general active ageing situation overview in Latvia and cooperation countries - Austria, Poland and Estonia. The seminar was concluded by the World Bank presentation and discussion. Experts from the World Bank, partners from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of the Republic of Poland and Ministry of Social Affairs of the Republic of Estonia as well as participants from the Ministry of Welfare of the Republic of Latvia and other Latvian institutions took part in the seminar.

Active Ageing Situation in Latvia, presented by Imants Lipskis, Ministry of Welfare of the Republic of Latvia

  • In 2013, 39% of Latvian population was represented by people who are 50 years old or older.
  • Although experts believe that emigration wave will decrease by 2018, forecast for the time period of 2000 - 2028 indicates population decrease due to imbalance between mortality and fertility rates.
  • During the time period of 1990-2012 life expectancy of retired females increased by 2,5 years and by 1,7 years for males.
  • Increased life expectancy of elderly population puts additional burden on Latvian social security system. Thus, decision on gradual increase of the retirement age from 62 in 2013 to 65 in 2025 was made.
  • One of the major problems for elderly population in Latvia is unemployment. Main reasons for unemployment of older workers are the following: outdated skills, health problems, need to care for family members, unfavourable stereotypes and discrimination, high cost of public transport, psychological problems (self-esteem), underestimated need for lifelong learning, insufficient Latvian language skills.
  • In the 4th quarter of 2013 unemployment rate for people aged 50-64 in Latvia was 11,5%, which was higher than European Union average of 7,6 % (Eurostat).
  • In order to enhance employment of unemployed persons, job seekers and persons who are exposed to unemployment risk in Latvia, general active labour market policy measures as well as measures targeting specific groups are provided by the State Employment Agency.
  • Even though older workers are often associated with such weaknesses as inability to adjust to workplace changes, decrease in work ability and worsening of health, it is crucial to pay attention to such strengths as experience, loyalty, skills, etc.

Active Ageing Situation in Estonia, presented by Reeli Sirotkina, Social Ministry of the Republic of Estonia

  • In 1999 Estonia established Elderly Policy Principles that considered health, social welfare, income, family situation, etc., but the idea of mainstreaming ageing was too weak.
  • Estonia is currently implementing Active Ageing Developmental Plan 2013 - 2020. The main reasons for implementation of the plan are the following: ensure collaboration of all the stakeholders (NGOs, senior organizations, private sector, local governments, the state) regarding active ageing issues, create possibilities for elderly people to grow older actively, pay attention to possibilities in order to improve economic situation in the country.
  • Active Ageing Developmental Plan covers the following areas: health and social services, education and life-long learning, labour market.
  • The objective of the Active Ageing Developmental Plan is to create an age-friendly society and ensure quality of life and equal opportunity for the older persons.
  • Psychological challenge: make elderly population understand that they are not only receivers, but contributors to the overall economy and society as well.
  • Active Ageing Developmental Plan describes the context of the active ageing situation, changes the attitudes and is useful for creating the specific developmental plans.
  • Translation of the Active Ageing Developmental Plan into Russian and English has increased accessibility.

Active Ageing Situation in Austria, presented by Ester Bermann, Austrian Federal Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection

  • General unemployment rate: 4,9%;

General employment rate (20-64 years): 75,6% (year 2012); older workers' employment rate: 43,1% (year 2012).

  • Government promotes integration of unemployed elderly, provides information within publicity campaigns as well as caries out studies on the situation of this age group.
  • Policy measure: reform of invalidity pension system:
    • Medical and professional rehabilitation instead of retirement;
    • Close cooperation of all involved institutions;
    • Expected outcome: up to 200,000 persons are to be supported in 2014-2016.
  • Policy measure "fit2work":
    • Nation-wide roll-out;
    • Services for individuals and companies for information, counselling and secondary prevention of occupational diseases;
    • Publicity campaign;
    • Expected outcome: support for up to 19,000 participants per year.
  • Policy measure to enhance labour market policies for older workers:
    • Employment: temporary subsidized employment, wage subsidies, etc.;
    • Intermediate labour market: More places and extended duration for older workers in socio-economic enterprises and employment projects;
    • Qualification: skilled labour package, demand-oriented qualification.

Active Ageing Situation in Poland, presented by Marzena Breza, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of  the Republic of Poland

  • Poland's population is relatively young compared to Latvia and European Union, but situation is expected to change in the future as median age is projected to increase from 38 in 2010 to 48 in 2035.
  • Polish government initiatives for 2012 - 2013 - government programme on social participation and Council for Senior Policy implementation (advisory board to the minister).
  • Polish Government initiatives for 2014 - 2020:
    • Government programme for 50+ to promote labour market participation;
    • Government programme on social participation with such priorities as education of senior citizens, promotion of social activity, social participation and social services;
    • Long-term senior policy approach in Poland 2014 - 2020 including such aspects as demographical situation, health and independent living, professional activity, educational, social and cultural activity, economy and intergenerational relations.

Active Ageing - Policy Framework and Key Questions, presented by Roberta Gatti and Emily Sinnott, World Bank

  • Ageing population concern: decreases the share of the labour force in the population (fiscal concern) and alters the structure of the labour force (productivity concern).
  • Possibilities to ensure active ageing:
    • Activate the labour force reserve and extend working lives;
    • Remove barriers for education and new skills throughout the life cycle.
  • Latvian labour force is expected to decrease by 18% over 2010 - 2030 compared to 3% in Austria.
  • Eastern Europe was the fastest growing developing region in 2000 - 2007, but employment creation was limited. As a result, employment rates are very low after 2008 - 2009 crises, especially among workers aged 55 and older.
  • Empirical evidence: the strongest determinants of retirement are possibility to receive old-age pension and disability pension.
  • Myths about work at all ages:
    • Older workers do not want to work and prefer retirement. Fact: 2/3 prefers gradual retirement and part-time work (EU27, Accession countries). At the same time an important aspect is sufficient income;
    • Older workers are less productive and more difficult hires. Mixed evidence: policies can be put in place to alleviate or even increase lower productivity;
    • Old workers take jobs from young. Fact: usually those two groups do not look for the same jobs.
  • Healthy life years for 50 years old males in Latvia is one of the lowest in Europe - it is important to make older age healthier.
  • Latvia has one of the lowest life-long learning participation rates in Europe.

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