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Facing the challenges of population change - Future World

Demography impacts so many aspects of our society and policy makers need solutions to the challenges of ongoing fast and slow changes

Demography shapes and is shaped by economic, social, political, and environmental change and population change becomes a megatrend that drives global and local trends in a number of domains. As a result, demographic scenarios are vital for understanding the future of so many aspects of our society. With both fast and slow changes ongoing, policy makers have to face up to a series of challenges.

Demography, and in particular population change, is one of the key aspects of our society being impacted by megatrends, analyzed in the 'Future World' series produced by Bocconi University – along with those impacting the economy, climate change, digital transformation and the European Union. Bocconi professors talk about the forces at play, the challenges and opportunities, and how we will need to transform and adapt, with added commentary from prominent guests.

Knowing more than the basics of demography and population change, given its centrality, will become a source of comparative advantage.

In this video, Francesco Billari, a demography scholar at Bocconi University, explains to us how demography is shaped by many forces - in recent years for example the digital revolution has quickly shaped population change and recently the Covid-19 pandemic has compressed deaths in a short time. The main force driving fast population change is migration, a force which magnifies the uncertainty associated with population change, On the other hand, at the global level, and relatively slowly, population ageing will unavoidably transform economies and societies everywhere. And these slow and fast changes bring a series of challenges, but also opportunities, for policy makers and our society.

The slow nature of population change is a challenge for policy-makers and business leaders alike, as the planning horizon they usually face is relatively short, and therefore foresight is needed to build societies, economies, and business that can ride on the waves of demographic change.

At the global level, and relatively slowly, Billari highlights, the demographic transition and population ageing are predictable processes that will unavoidably transform economies and societies everywhere. Europe and East Asia are the first regions in the World that face high levels of population ageing. Coming first comes indeed as a challenge, but it can become an opportunity. The forerunners of population ageing, when addressing it, can develop innovative solutions, both in terms of policies and tmarket-provided services. Examples include solutions to help preventing fertility from falling to extreme low levels, including promoting work-family balance, or solutions to care needs for frail individuals, including the elderly.

At the country, region, and city level, demography can change in a fast way. The most important factors that can change the size and shape of population in a short time are immigration, or emigration. This fast nature implies that policies can change the course of demography, which is not exogenously given for policy-makers in particular.

Demographic change is not just a challenge but also an opportunity to be grasped and we must not limit ourselves just to problem analysis but also think of solutions and policies.

In the video, Dubravka Šuica, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Democracy and Demography, talks to us about the most important demographic challenges for the European Union, and its policy makers.

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