Background: Demographic change

The term “demographic change” describes several processes of change in the composition of the population:

  • Life expectancy is increasing – older people are living longer.
  • Low birth rates – the number of children is declining.
  • This is causing an increase in the percentage of older people in the overall population.

That is changing our society: while 16.7 million Germans were 65 years of age or older in 2008, the share of this age group will rise by roughly one-third (33 percent) to 22.3 million people by the year 2030. (Source: Federal Statistical Office)

Demographic change is not unusual for a modern society, and can also be seen in similar form in other countries. It has an impact on many policy fields: from kindergarten construction or pensions policy, all the way to construction and housing. Older people more often live alone – this trend alone changes the living situation. In addition, since families are becoming smaller, there are fewer relatives who can look after the elderly. And those who are willing to do so, often do not live nearby as a result of growing mobility. So, if more older people want to stay in their own homes longer than in the past, but have less opportunity to fall back on the help of relatives than in the past, then the framework conditions need to change: for example, as regards the structural design of housing and in the nursing and health care structures.