Labor Ministers Conference
Turin, Italy, November 10-11, 2000
G8 Turin Charter: "Towards Active Ageing"
Older people are an asset to society. They should have the possibility of developing and using their potential to lead active, independent and fulfilling lives. A central challenge is to promote a culture that values the experience and knowledge that come with age. Policies oriented towards facilitating and supporting the participation of older people in economic and social life can contribute significantly to the goals of economic growth, prosperity and social cohesion in all countries. To this end, older people should have better access to employment or voluntary activities on the basis of ability, opportunity and choice.
Population ageing is a common feature for most of the industrialised world. The dependency ratio of elderly people to those of working age has already increased and is forecast to increase more substantially in the medium-long term, particularly when the "baby-boomers" start to reach retirement age. Net migration flows may have some effects on population structure, albeit somewhat limited. We also must take into account the fact that, despite longer life expectancy, in most countries people are still retiring earlier than in the past.
The rising ratio of elderly to working age people will be associated with increased expenditures in areas such as pensions and health care. These increased costs may put growing pressure on the public finances of many countries in the next decades. If the economic impact is to be contained, the employment rate of all working age people must be raised as much as possible.
A comprehensive policy approach
These demographic trends compel us to rethink the conventional concept of a three-stage life cycle of education, employment and retirement.
Macroeconomic policies that encourage growth together with investment in human capital and social inclusion policies will assist in meeting the challenges of an ageing population.
To promote a policy of active ageing we need the involvement and contribution of all actors. Therefore, a partnership between governments, other public authorities, employers, unions and civil society must play a leadership role in changing attitudes toward older workers, and in promoting and supporting older people's participation in employment as well as in community and voluntary activities.
To successfully utilize the huge potential for increased labour force participation among older workers, we must make use of their skills, talents and experience.
To pursue this goal, we agree that:
governments and social partners should facilitate the ability of older workers to continue to make an active contribution to the economy, capitalizing on the benefits of increased health and life expectancy.
investment in knowledge and lifelong learning is vital to prevent the skills of older workers from becoming obsolete and to maintain their competitiveness in the labour market. In this context we renew our commitment to lifelong learning as embodied in the 1998 G-8 Charter of Lifelong Learning;
active labour market policy measures should be reviewed in order to be tailored better to the needs of older workers. These measures should include action to improve information technology literacy and skills and to prevent the "digital divide";
any existing incentive deriving from the tax and benefits systems needs to be carefully examined, with the view of enabling older workers to remain on the labour market;
gradual retirement schemes, in which part-time job income is supplemented by a partial accrual of pension entitlements should be further explored as means to increase participation rates;
innovative programs should be supported in order to promote appropriate organisational restructuring of work places, including a review of management practices, to make them more friendly for older workers;
policies and practices which counter age prejudice and discrimination should be pursued;
the promotion of the quality of jobs and occupational health and safety in the work place is important to maintain employability and reduce involuntary withdrawal from the labour force.
Financial security is a key factor influencing the ability of older people to participate actively in society. The long-term sustainability of social security systems is therefore important. Many countries have already taken action through reforms to address the sustainability of pensions and other welfare provisions. These should continue to be pursued where needed, bearing in mind their broad objectives of promoting active participation and income support.
In order to underpin adequate policies it is important to collect data on the most salient economic, social, physical and mental aspects of ageing. Such data will improve our understanding of the ageing process and will be further enhanced if action is taken to facilitate international comparison. We need an improved sharing of information to permit policymakers in all countries to learn from best practices.
We are convinced that
the ageing of our societies will create new opportunities as well as challenges;
there is nothing inevitable about the impact of ageing on society;
older people represent a great reservoir of resources for our economies and societies.
Therefore, we agree that, through concerted efforts, coherent strategies and enhanced partnership with all actors concerned, we can reap the economic and social benefits resulting from increased activity of older people.
We attach continued importance to international cooperation and to the strengthening of the dialogue with social partners in this field and we encourage also the OECD, WHO and ILO to continue their work in this area.