"The countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are experiencing a third transition, a transition that overlaps with their recent political and economic transitions. In 2025, more than one in five Bulgarians will be more than 65 years old - up from just 13 percent in 1990. Ukraine’s population will shrink by a fifth between the years 2000 and 2025. And the average Slovene will be 47.4 years old in 2025 - among the oldest in the world.
This third transition - from red to gray - is unique. Populations have been aging quite rapidly in many countries; by 2010, populations will start decreasing in such industrial countries as France, Italy, and Japan. Yet the unique conjunction of rapidly aging and relatively poor populations exists only in this region. This report examines the possible impact of this third transition. It analyzes projections and policy outlooks for a whole range of issues, from labor markets to pension policies, from health care to savings and capital markets. It concludes that although aging in the region is occurring in the context of unprecedented weak institutional development, countries can avoid severe economic consequences if they accelerate their economic transition and undertake longer-term policies to meet the aging challenge."
Demographic trends can have direct implications for labor markets through three primary channels: labor supply, labor productivity, and labor demand (because of shifts in the structure of aggregate demand). This chapter focuses on the first two. The conventional wisdom is that aging societies will face difficult economic and social challenges because of what will inevitably happen in the labor market—that is, output will be reduced because the labor force will shrink as large numbers of workers retire and because older workforces cannot produce at the level of younger ones.