World Economy

Europe’s Aging Economies Stand to Gain

Europe’s Aging Economies Stand to GainEurope’s Aging Economies Stand to Gain

The greatest influx of people into Europe in decades is not just a humanitarian emergency, but also a potential stroke of luck for many countries facing the economic threat of an aging population.

A plunge in birth rates means there will be a dearth of European workers in coming years to support the growing number of retirees. So the arrival of thousands of young–and often well-educated–potential workers stands to boost the long-term economic prospects of the region, AP reported.

The key is how well they are integrated and how many jobs European countries can offer.

Germany, among the most vocal in welcoming refugees, is also conveniently the country that stands to gain most quickly, as it has a strong labor market with lots of vacancies.

By contrast, weaker economies like Greece and Italy will take years, even decades, to see positive effects as they struggle to create jobs–though they too face the threat of a demographic time bomb.

“Let us not forget, we are an aging continent in demographic decline,” the president of the European Union Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said last month in a speech. “We will be needing talent.”

Before the influx of people began this year, the German statistics office said it expected the country’s population, now 80.8 million, to shrink by a tenth or more by 2060. Germany forecasts its workforce will drop by 6 million in the next 15 years.

Welcoming an estimated 800,000 people from Syria, Iraq and other countries this year will cost Germany about €6 billion ($6.6 billion) next year in welfare support and language training. But such upfront costs may be recouped through higher economic growth.