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Is demographic change a crisis or an opportunity?: Governments and thought leaders will come together in Sophia to discuss demographic resilience

The issue of demographic change has been among the hottest issues in the world, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, due to the declining fertility rates, increasing aging in the society and shrinking populations. Although these demographic changes are often seen as a crisis, the underlying reasons for these shifts are, in many ways, can be read as harbingers of healthier societies and expanding choices for women. In the face of these varying approaches, UNFPA, together with the Government of Bulgaria, is bringing together governments and thought leaders from across Europe at a high-level conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 1-2 December to discuss the issue and launch a Decade of Demographic Resilience with the hope of supporting Europe’s efforts to shape its demographic future and find pathways for countries to thrive in a world of rapid demographic change.

TURKEY - Recently, the question of demographic change has been among the widely discussed issues in the world, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. The main reason for this is the new population dynamics observed in the region with far-reaching demographic consequences: declining fertility rates, aging people and shrinking populations. The demographic transition in  Europe is manifested in its fertility rate of 1.53 live births per woman* which is considerably lower than the rate of 2.1 which is considered as the rate necessary for a population to keep its size constant.

The decline in the fertility rates combined with people leaving their countries to have better opportunities elsewhere and governments unable and/or unwilling to accept immigrants explains the rapid aging and population decline in Europe. Today, one in four people in Europe is 60 years or older. By 2050, more than a third of the continent’s population will be in that age group. 

Although all these developments are often interpreted as a crisis, the reasons lying behind them can also be reasons to celebrate. People are ageing as they are healthier and live longer. Fertility rates are lower mainly because women have more control over their bodies. And populations are declining in some places because people have more freedom to choose where they want to live and work. 

The Demographic Resilience Conference which will be held in Sophia, Bulgaria, on 1-2 December aims to bring together governments and thought leaders from across Europe and open up the most important issues about this demographic change to discussion. In the event where innovative solutions for communities to thrive in the face of rapid demographic change will be the center of discussion, the emphasis will be on a people-centered approach to demographic change, which encourages us to leave the narratives of doom behind and replace them with new pathways to use this transition as an opportunity to build more inclusive, more diverse and, ultimately, stronger and more prosperous societies. 

The event will be broadcasted live on Youtube. For more information and registration, please click here.

*Eurostat Fertility Statistics