Lithuania is facing grave demographic problems in the coming decades as its society continues to age at an alarming rate.
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

"For the last quarter of a century, birth rates have been too low to ensure replacement of generations, emigration is huge and those who are leaving are young people who could work and create welfare," Stankūnienė tells DELFI.

Demographer Vlada Stankūnienė says the share of old people - in need of healthcare services - is rising and the base of the working-age population is contracting.

As a result, the number of people aged 45-54 today is almost twice that of 10-19, she notes. This means that when these people will be retiring, twice as fewer people will be entering the labour force to replace them.

The result will be a society that will age significantly over the coming 50 years, Stankūnienė says.

"These demographic structures and processes mean we have to do something here and now and stop deceiving ourselves that expatriates will turn round and come back," she says.

Stankūnienė notes that Lithuania is leading in Europe in terms of shrinking population as well as the growing share of senior citizens.

"It is almost macabre that the only factor slowing down the ageing of the society is the highest death rate among EU nations. So the only factor retarding the growth of the share of old people is that many do not live to reach old age," she says.

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