The third Berlin Demography Forum being held from April 9 to 11 concentrates on the topic “Security – Trust – Solidarity.” A key focus is the question of how solidarity within a society can be fostered in the face of demographic challenges. Changes, such as low birth rates, rising immigration, changes in the make-up of family and working conditions, and above all, an ever-increasing life expectancy, touch almost all areas of life. For example, in Germany in 2021 the proportion of 60- to 75-year-olds in the population will for the first time be greater than that of 30- to 45-year-olds.
The Berlin Demography Forum is an interdisciplinary platform that brings together experts and personalities from academia, politics, business, and ethics. The Forum was founded on the initiative of Allianz and the Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth to pave the way for new impetuses for designing and initiating sustainable change. Ten young academics from seven different countries will represent the young generation. The two “Young Experts Panels” will tomorrow present their issues and perspectives in a discussion with Prof. Dr. Rita Süssmuth, former President of the German Federal Parliament, Prof. Elsa Fornero, an economist at the University of Turin, and former Italian Minister for Labor, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities.
Youth topics: access to education, integration, equal opportunities
The young experts have different research focuses and areas of interest, and include migration and integration, education and labor market opportunities, the influence of work on career and family planning, and the organization of working hours during the transition to retirement. Ali Bargu, a 21-year-old German of Turkish origin, is a social scientist and Vodafone Foundation scholar who conducts research on the integration of migrants as well as on the educational and labor market opportunities for young people, he says, “With the understanding of migration as an opportunity for Germany, positive and sustainable integration can be brought about and at the same time counteract demographic change.”
“Work less but for a longer period of time when you are older.” This is an idea that another young expert Faruk Tuncer advocates. The educationalist, who was nominated by the German Ministry for Family Affairs, calls for a more flexible working time model and wants to research this topic in the future. Another focus of his work is the continuing education of civil society organizations. The 24-year-old is project manager of the Competence Center LEAD from the Stiftung Mercator, and is also a member of the Think Tank 30, Club of Rome Germany.
The Vodafone Foundation Germany is supporting the “Young Experts Panel” at the Berlin Demography Forum for the first time. “We are bringing together young experts from around the world to develop recommendations on the topics of equity in education and solidarity within society against the backdrop of demographic change. We are giving the decision-makers of tomorrow an attractive platform for debate,” said Dr. Mark Speich, Managing Director of the Vodafone Foundation.
Simulating how it feels old
Those who want to physically experience what it feels like to be old can try on a so-called “age suit” at the Berlin Demography Forum. This suit simulates, for example, stiff joints, unclear vision and impaired hearing, all of which increase with age. “When young people put on the suit, they often experience a wow effect, because they really feel old,” explained Volker Deville, demography expert at Allianz.
Marking the occasion of the Berlin Demography Forum, Population Europe’s traveling exhibition is making a stop at the Allianz Forum in Berlin. The network of 30 leading demographic research institutions in Europe has put together the interactive exhibition with the motto “living to be 100 years old, but how?” Visitors to the exhibition can use an iPad to discover what demographic change means for his or her own life. In this way, visitors find out why 50-year-olds have the same risk of dying as newborns, that many singles are not alone, and that the often quoted “clash of generations” will most likely not take place.
The exhibition is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the European Commission, the Friede Springer Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK.