LOOKING INTO VISIONS - METHODS AND RESULTS OF A DELPHI STUDY ON DEMOGRAPHIC DEVELOPMENT IN 15 EUROPEAN COUNTRIES UNTIL 2030
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Experts' views on the future demographic development and adequate policy scenarios formulated under the Delphi Study are discussed in the article. The Delphi Study was conducted in Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Switzerland. Its methodology, is briefly presented. The Delphi Study offers experts the opportunity of constructing population scenarios and policy scenarios based on their professional perspectives.The fundamental assumptions of the Delphi Study is that the way people build their futures depend on their capacity to 'dream', to look positively beyond boundaries of time and the constraints of everyday life. The Delphi Study covers three areas of the population change and policy recommendations: ageing, family and fertility and gender. Experts from at least 9 of 15 countries indicated the sustainability of pension systems, work and family reconciliation, increases in the number of births, and changing male and female roles as the policy priorities for 2003-2030. The sustainability of pension systems and an increase of intergenerational solidarity shall be reached through the implementation of several measures: increasing the retirement age, diversifying private retirement plans, supporting flexible/gradual retirement and offering work after retirement. In addition, there should be a higher investment in health improvement and in life-long learning. Training in intergenerational solidarity for youth, financial incentives for families that take care of old family members, and an increase in the number of births were also proposed. An increase of female employment and of the number of legal immigrant workers was suggested as well.. Better work and family reconciliation can be obtained by increasing the number of part-time positions, and creating more flexible working time and tele-work opportunities. In addition, experts suggested improving parental leave policies and working on a better integration of private life and work. An increase in the number of creches and kindergartens, as well as either prolonged school-time or more after-school facilities would ease work and family reconciliation as well. Policy measures supportive for the desired increase in the number of births by 2030 should aim at increasing financial incentives for families and changing the organisation of work. A better availability of infrastructure and services along with changes in the value structure and the social environment would stimulate an increase in the number of births.The experts also indicated a higher participation of men in domestic chores and a more equal distribution of childcare as key success factors to achieve that change in gender roles. Furthermore, allowing women to acquire better and more visible positions in the labour market and in social, economic and political life was proposed.
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