Presentation of results by the research association on November 13th, 2009

Panel 3: Population policy or social policy? Demographic trend reversal and leeway for economic and social innovations

In political discourse the demographic development – forecasts speak of a decline in population and in the labour force potential as well – is often seen as an absolute limitation of socioeconomic development potentials. However, demographic developments do not immediately affect the labour market but rather in a mediated fashion through social structures and the conduct of companies, households, states and associations; and these mediatory institutions can be shaped by policy.

On the basis of its macro model INFORGE/DEMOS the Society for Structural Research (Gesellschaft für Strukturforschung/GWS) has modelled supply-demand relations in the labour market up to 2020 which will serve as the basis for the discussion of such relations of cause and effect. The demand for labour is being modelled as endogenous variable, labour supply as exogenous.

The central finding of modelling is that until 2020 there will be no demographic gap in the labour market, but there will be a gap in respect of qualifications. This results from the obvious mismatch in the field of higher qualifications. On the other hand, till the end of the period in question the supply of low and medium qualifications will still exceed the demand. How could this gap in qualifications be filled?

For that purpose alternative development scenarios were modelled, varying educational participation, an extension of the labour force potential, a higher labour participation of women and a prolonged labour integration of older people. The results show that an educational expansion, as defined by the EU’s benchmarks, would have the strongest positive impact. However, if the participation in education continues at the present level, it seems impossible to reach this target. Equally, the increasing labour participation of women remains insufficient, if the present trends continue: On the one hand, child care still puts serious limits on female employment, on the other hand, the increase in education would primarily be one of qualifications in the middle range. Finally, as far as the age transformations are concerned one cannot observe a regular extension of working years but a differentiation of transformation patterns: timeshare in full-time employment and in non-employment is decreasing while the timeshare in unemployment is growing, but there are marked differences between genders and according to educational qualifications.

Lecture (German)
Peter Bartelheimer: Eine demografische Lücke am Arbeitsmarkt? PDF