Europe’s Population To Drop By 7% This Century

The population of the European Union is expected to decline from a peak in 2026, which will be the first long-term decline in EU history. The population is ageing, and each year there are more deaths than births in the EU, with migration responsible for the continuing population increase. By 2100, the population will have declined by 7%, according to projections. Photo credit: ZM / Brno Daily.

Czech Rep., Jul 13 (BD) – Following years of steady population growth, Eurostat projects that by the end of the century, the population of the EU will decline by 7%. Although the population has overall been increasing ever since the first data was made available in the 1960s, the death rate has been higher than the birth rate every year since 2012, and the increasing population is therefore due to migration.

In the coming years, Eurostat projects the EU population to peak at 449 million in 2026, less than 0.5% higher than in 2020, and then to fall gradually, to a total decline in population of 7% by 2100. This projection is based on the past natural population decrease, and the ageing population.

While the proportion of children is only expected to decrease by one percentage point, from 15% in 2019 to 14% in 2100, the share of working-age people will decrease from 65% to 55%, and the share of citizens over 65 will increase from 20% to 31%. The over-80 population will more than double, from 6% to 15%. As a result, the median age will increase by almost five years, from the current 43.7 years to 48.8 in 2100.

Projection of the EU population growth. Image by Eurostat.

Although the natural growth rate of the EU population has been negative since 2012, with around half a million more deaths than births recorded in 2019, net population change has continued to increase steadily due to migration. In 2019, around 5% of the EU population were non-EU citizens. Non-EU citizens were the majority of non-nationals in most EU member states; in the Czech Republic, around 3% of foreign nationals were from outside the EU and 2% were EU citizens.

Together with Austria, the Czech Republic was one of two countries that reported an almost balanced rate of deaths and births in 2019, and according to the Eurostat projections, the Czech population will decline by a below-average 4.5%.

The Czech Republic’s projected population growth. Image by Eurostat.

Countries with the biggest current decline in the natural population, such as Bulgaria, Latvia, and Italy, are projected to experience the largest long-term declines; Bulgaria’s population is expected to decrease by over 30%, Latvia’s by over 40%, and Italy’s by 15%.

At the opposite end, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Malta all record a higher rate of births than deaths, as well as a large number of non-nationals in their country, and are set to increase their populations by 35%, 20% and 40% respectively. Ireland, which had the highest natural population increase in 2019, will increase its population by 30% according to Eurostat’s projections.

The EU population declined by 12.8% in 2019-2020 due to Brexit, as the UK previously made up 13% of the population. The population of the newly-defined EU, the so-called EU27, saw an increase of 0.9 million during 2019.

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