Experts: Aging of Europeans affects all

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VIENNA, Austria “” Heaps of dumplings and schnitzels. Free drinks. A three-man band. It’s party time at a Vienna retirement home _ but two women in the silver-haired crowd just can’t get into the mood.

“What’s the world coming to? It’s all about work and money nowadays,” says 86-year-old Elfriede Kobsa. “Yes, whatever happened to having a family and children?” sighs Elisabeth Nagl.


Good question.

The statistics speak for themselves. By 2010 _ just four years from now _ there will be more 55- to 64-year-olds than 15- to 24-year-olds in the European Union, Austria’s social affairs minister warns.

The growing number of older Europeans, coupled with low birth rates across the 25-nation bloc, is giving lawmakers a big headache. At issue is how to financially shoulder the burden of an aging society while staying competitive globally and finding workable incentives for people to have more babies.

“It’s getting worse and worse. If things continue like this, no one is ever going to get to retire,” said Roni Howath, 56, a former Vienna postal worker who retired early and now drives a cab from time to time to supplement his monthly pension.

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