Skip to content

Learning from friends – the impact of population ageing in Berlin


By dxw

The UK and Germany will benefit from each other’s experience with public policy in the context of population ageing.

Demographic ageing: policy implications and strategies

Thursday 30 May 2013 (WP1239)

Our one day meeting in Berlin last month discussed the dynamics of delivering quality health and social care and worthwhile public pensions to increasingly ageing populations in the UK and Germany. The experts brought together in Berlin represented the myriad stakeholders in health and social care and pension provision in both countries, with participants attending from the state, private and public sectors.

Hosted in Berlin by our partner, Bertelsmann Stiftung, a leading German Foundation, the meeting highlighted the shared challenges and opportunities which Britain and Germany face. The current demographic trends will increase pressures on the public purse if the UK and Germany do not take positive steps now in mitigation. However, population ageing should also represent an opportunity. Lord Green, the UK’s Minister of State for Trade and Investment, spoke of the need to celebrate population ageing in his introductory remarks to the meeting, and the opportunities for business to contribute to finding solutions both in UK and Germany and elsewhere.

Both countries need to balance the resources of the state with the needs of society, and there is creativity emerging from austerity in the UK with practical examples shared, often identifying new partnerships (state, public, business, with the latter contributing innovation and technological innovations). Health and social care systems should also take advantage of the increasing numbers of active and healthy retirees to help care for the so-called ‘older old’ population. changes. Shifting care towards earlier intervention was also noted as a positive approach.

Overall, the meeting showed that there are significant gains to be made by British and German collaboration on public policy. It is hoped that increasingly close dialogue between the two countries will help locate the best combination of policies from our different welfare system traditions – the Beveridge Report for the UK and the Bismarckian welfare state for Germany.

We were particularly glad to welcome three British peers, Lord Green, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Trade and Industry; Lord Filkin, author of the recent Ready for Ageing report; and Baroness Greengross. They were joined by notable academics working on public policy, Axel Börsch-Supan from the Munich Centre for the Economics of Aging; Professor Heinz Rothgang, University of Bremen; John Appleby, Chief Economist at The King’s Fund; Sarah Harper Professor of Gerontology at University of Oxford, Noel Whiteside University of Warwick, and representatives from influential think tanks, Paul Johnson Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies; and those representing civil society, including James Goodwin Director of Research at Age UK, as well as policy makers from national, regional and local government including Sandie Keene, Director of Adult Social Services for Leeds City Council, and President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.


Further information

Conference on Demographic ageing: policy implications and strategies

Report chaired by our participant and speaker Lord Filkin Ready for Ageing produced by  the House of Lords Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change.