Working population over 65 will double in a decade

Catalonia to gain 371,000 workers by 2031

2 min
Workers at a logistics center.

BarcelonaExtending the retirement age is one of the main prescriptions for the pension system to remain sustainable. But without going into this aspect, the Institut d'Estadística de Catalunya (Idescat) has made its projections on the evolution of the active population. Catalonia will have an active population of 4.3 million in 2031, 371,000 people more than in 2021. In addition, it highlights the increase in active population over 65 years of age, which will increase from 47,500 people in 2021 to 118,800 in 2031; that is, in a decade it will more than double.

This, however, is not the only increase in older workers. It is also expected that the number of active people between 55 and 64 years of age will grow, in line with the ageing of the population, from 652,000 in 2021 to 855,000 in 2031.

Idescat itself lists the causes of this foreseeable increase in the number of older workers. On the one hand, it is due to Catalonia's demographic structure, with baby boomers nearing this age. On the other hand, there are legislative changes, with retirement age being increased from 65 to 67 depending on the years worked, in addition to the increase in penalties for early retirement and bonuses for delaying retirement age.

According to Idescat, the number of younger workers will also grow. Active 16 to 24 year-olds will increase from 312,000 in 2021 to 423,000 in 2031, an effect of the high birth rate registered between 2003 and 2015. On the other hand, it is the middle-aged tranche that will decrease. Those aged between 25 and 54 make up the bulk of the working population and will fall from 2.97 million in 2021 to 2.90 million in 2031. This age group will lose weight in the total working population – from 74.6% of the total to 67.5% – and its internal structure will also change: the number of active people aged 25 to 34 will increase, while those aged 40 to 49 will decrease.

More older working women

According to Idescat, the percentage of active women will remain at around 48%, after the large increase in the female activity rate over the last 20 years, but there will be "a significant increase" in female labour participation at ages closer to retirement. In the case of active people over 65 years of age, men will double (from 29,000 to 62,000), while women will triple (from 18,000 to 57,000).

Another aspect highlighted by Idescat is the increase in the activity rate. In 2031 it will stand at 80.3% of the population aged between 16 and 64 (83.1% in men and 77.5% in women), six points higher than the current rate. However, in the very long term, a decrease in the Catalan working population is expected. If in 2031 it is expected to be 4.3 million people, a figure that would be maintained until 2041, then it would drop to 4.2 million in 2071.