European Population Decline to Pose Health Challenges

More people in Europe are dying than being born, according to a new study.

The study in question was conducted by three American sociologists, who carried out a comprehensive investigation into every single county in Europe and the United States.

It was discovered that 58 per cent of the counties in Europe had more deaths than births in the first decade of the 21st century, which ranked poorly compare to the United States.

Only 28 per cent of counties in the US match this statistic.

This means that the majority of European nations are experiencing a natural decrease in population, something that is contributing to a greying European population.

Countries such as Germany and Japan are already being forced to export elderly people overseas, owing to a lack of social care facilities.

Indeed, three of the most populated nations in Europe are in a state of natural decrease, with Russia, Germany and Italy all decreasing in population on an annual basis.

Considering that these three nations feature a combined total of 280 million inhabitants, this accounts for over one-third of Europe’s total population.

In Britain, there is a tendency for the population to drift towards the affluent London and South East areas.

This means that rural counties are increasingly experiencing ageing populations.

Though there is a measure of regional variation, counties where the population is decreasing are overwhelmingly concentrated in the South-West, the North-East, Wales and Scotland.

Commenting on the outcome of this detailed study, the professors of the sociology and the demography who conducted the survey suggest that the results should be of significant concern into the European Community as a whole.

“Natural decrease is much more common in Europe than in the U.S because its population is older, fertility rates are lower and there are fewer women of child-bearing age…this is a major policy concern because it drains the demographic resilience from a region, diminishing its economic viability and competitiveness.”

Existing research has already indicated that Britain will become the most populated country in the EU in the foreseeable future, With its population inching towards 80 million by 2050.

The report essentially juxtaposes a declining European population with a swelling north America, but the developed world also differs significantly from the rest of the planet.

It is already predicted that by 2016 there will be a further 3 billion people living in what is classified by the United Nations as developing nations.

Just nine countries (India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, the United States of America, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, China and Bangladesh) are expected to make up half all global population growth by 2050.

However, it is also worth noting that the global population is expected to stabilise in 2050, and beginning declining present trends continue.

It is quite clear that this will have massive health implications, particularly considering the well-documented issues related to social care.

 
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Obesity and drug problems included in review of sickness benefit

People who are obese or have alcohol or drug problems resulting in them not being able to work could have their sickness benefits cut if they refuse treatment, says David Cameron.

The PM has launched a wide reaching review of the current system because some 100,000 people with such conditions claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). However, he says, this fails to encourage people with long-term, treatable issues to get medical help. There is currently no requirement for people with such health problems to undertake treatment.

ESA was brought in during 2008 in place of incapacity benefit and income support and is paid when someone has illness or disability. It does require claimants to undergo a work capability assessment to assess the degree to which their illness or disability impacts their ability to work.

Around 60% of the 2.5 million people claiming the ESA benefit have been on in for now for more than 5 years.

 

BACK TO WORK

The PM has asked Prof Dame Carol Black, already an adviser to the Department of Health, to carry out the review of policies and allowances.

Whilst launching the proposed review, Mr Cameron commented “Some have drug or alcohol problems, but refuse treatment. In other cases people have problems with their weight that could be addressed – but instead a life on benefits rather than work becomes the choice. It is not fair to ask hardworking taxpayers to fund the benefits of people who refuse to accept the support and treatment that could help them get back to a life of work.”

Mark Harper, Disabilities Minister, said people who were overweight or had alcohol or drug problems needed treatment to get back to work.

Dame Carol said she was keen to “overcome the challenges” posed by the current system. “These people, in addition to their long-term conditions and lifestyle issues, suffer the great disadvantage of not being engaged in the world of work, such an important feature of society.”

 

NOT SUPPORTED BY ALL

However, the proposed review and policy changes have been challenged from many quarters.

Campaigners said it was “naive” to think overweight people did not want to change and Labour said the policy would no nothing to help people off benefits.

Susannah Gilbert, co-founder of online obesity support group Big Matters, claimed the proposed policy changes “wouldn’t be feasible”. She went on to say: “I think it’s naive to think that people don’t want to change their life. Many of them have tried every diet under the sun and they still have a weight problem, so to think they don’t want to have help isn’t true.”

The Labour MP, Kate Green, who’s also shadow minister for disabled people, pointed out that the numbers claiming sickness benefits had risen under the present Government. She said: “David Cameron’s government has stripped back funding for drug support programmes and their Work Programme has helped just 7% of people back to work, so it is clear the Tory plan isn’t working. Today’s announcement does nothing to help people off benefits and into work while the government continues to fail to clamp down on tax avoiders and offshore tax havens.”

 

 
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