Bioethics Forum

Solidarity Under Conditions of Demographic Change

Französischer Dom, Gendarmenmarkt 5, 10117 Berlin

Christiane Woopen, Vorsitzende des Deutschen Ethikrates, empfängt Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel vor dem Französischen Dom in Berlin, Deutscher Ethikrat, Fotograf: Reiner Zensen


In the coming decades the population of Germany is expected to decline, while the number of older people is increasing. This will have far-reaching effects on society, the economy and public life, on social security systems and on solidarity between generations.

In view of this demographic development, it is important to create an awareness among citizens of the future challenges regarding solidarity within society and between generations, and of the consequences of individual actions. Hence, it is important to pay special attention to a fair and equitable balance of the distribution and guarantee of rights, duties and entitlements between young and old.

In this context, social structures in which people assume long-term responsibility for one another, such as in families, in volunteer work, in communities and cities, but also in the areas of education, work or health, are fundamental for the communication of ethical values such as solidarity and tolerance and are indispensable for community cooperation. The aim of the evening event in the series “Bioethics Forum” is to bring the importance of social cohesion in the face of demographic change to the attention of the public, to raise awareness of the associated challenges and to thus contribute to the shaping of tomorrow’s society, which requires the commitment of every individual.

The following questions, among others, are taken into account:

  • Which principles shape social cohesion under conditions of demographic change? How is the understanding of solidarity and tolerance changing in view of the shift of relevance between young and old, immigration and emigration, families and singles?
  • What is the role of the family in the face of demographic change and what contribution can the family make to social cohesion? What other forms of responsibility and mutual assistance between the generations can serve as models?
  • What is the responsibility of the individual and society for shaping demographic change?
  • What opportunities and what responsibility does the public sector have to strengthen solidarity and tolerance in an ageing society?
  • How can we strengthen the appreciation of knowledge and skills of older people in economy and society? How can it be ensured that an independent life in dignity is possible even in the event of illness and the need for care?