Demographic development and its economic consequences
Within the next decades, East Germany will continue to face strong demographic challenges. In addition to shrinking, the ageing of population and labour force will more and more affect the economic development of the new Länder. Against this background, the question rises whether the shift of workforce age structure will influence growth and innovation potential as well as structural change. The IWH recently has focused on this topic widely ignored by the research literature so far. On the basis of selected methods and data, the economic impact of workforce ageing was empirically evaluated. The first issue concerns the impact of age on productivity. Based on two separate empirical investigations, the conclusion can be drawn that above a certain stage, age diminishes productivity. But higher levels of experience might partly compensate for this reduction. Secondly, the innovation effects of ageing have been analyzed. Again, significant age effects arise. Employees at the age of about 40 years turn out to be the most innovative part of the workforce. Furthermore, the analysis shows that engineers are particularly subject to age effects. A third study sheds light on the challenging consequences of ageing on entrepreneurship potential. Hence, independently of the increasing problem of skill shortages, ageing itself will unfavourably affect growth, innovation and structural change. Though political options are limited due to the more or less fixed demographic trends, appropriate instruments regarding economic, family and education policy might lower the identified age effects.