Europe’s Coming Demographic Challenge

For nearly a generation, economic growth in Western Europe has lagged conspicuously behind the United States. Europe’s population is aging dramatically; the region’s working-age population will peak in just a few years and decline indefinitely thereafter. If Western Europeans wish to remain economically competitive and enjoy continuing improvements in living standards, they must act now to address this looming demographic challenge. Fortunately, there is one important demographic realm, critical to both productivity and economic competitiveness, where Western Europe may enjoy a comparative advantage: mortality and health.

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