The Falling Populations of Europe

Cassandra on Europe

Living in England in the sixties and seventies, I recall that there was great consternation among the scientists that overpopulation would doom Europe to starvation. It didn’t turn out that way.

Today no European country has a replacement total fertility rate of 2.1 and over half are below 1.5. Indeed the World total fertility rate has been falling for 60 years and will continue to do so.

Peak Population

In 2009 I highlighted the falling fertility of Europe. To see the real effect of falling fertility one can look at when populations will peak.

For Europeans, over a third of their countries have already passed their peak population. By 2050 over 75% of European countries will be peaked populations.

Of the twelve countries still to peak after 2050, only Turkey and the United Kingdom, it is estimated, will be growing at over 30,000 a year. In contrast, there will be nine countries that will be losing over 30,000 a year of their populations.

By 2050 European countries will be shedding 2.2 million people a year.

The Future of Europe

The future of European economies does not look promising as their populations fall. A declining population due to low fertility rates is accompanied by population aging. The young will have to increase per-capita output in order to support an infrastructure with costly, intensive care for the oldest among their population.

Many industrial economies have mortgaged the future by way of debt and retirement transfer payments that originally assumed rising tax revenues from a continually expanding population. As there would be fewer taxpayers in a declining population, this can contribute to a lower standard of living.

Because of labor shortages, labor-intensive sectors of the economy may be hurt if the shortage is severe enough. On the positive side, such a shortage increases the demand for labor, which can potentially result in a reduced unemployment rate as well as higher wages.


European Population Prospects

Click ONCE on column headers to sort.

Country1 Peak Year Peak 2010 2050 TFR Year Δ
Hungary 1980 10,707,000 9,973,000 8,934,000 1.34 -26,000
Bulgaria 1985 8,960,000 7,497,000 5,392,000 1.40 -52,000
Armenia 1990 3,545,000 3,090,000 3,018,000 1.35 -12,000
Bosnia & Herzegovina 1990 4,308,000 3,760,000 3,008,000 1.24 -28,000
Estonia 1990 1,567,000 1,339,000 1,233,000 1.42 -3,000
Georgia 1990 5,460,000 4,219,000 3,267,000 1.44 -28,000
Latvia 1990 2,663,000 2,240,000 1,854,000 1.29 -8,000
Lithuania 1990 3,698,000 3,255,000 2,579,000 1.22 -16,000
Romania 1990 23,207,000 21,190,000 17,279,000 1.38 -120,000
Ukraine 1990 51,583,000 45,433,000 35,026,000 1.25 -237,000
Belarus 1995 10,270,000 9,588,000 7,275,000 1.23 -67,000
Croatia 1995 4,669,000 4,410,000 3,825,000 1.41 -18,000
Moldova2 1995 4,432,603 4,317,483 3,635,357 1.26 -27,066
Poland 1995 38,595,000 38,038,000 32,013,000 1.27 -222,000
Russia 1995 148,497,000 140,367,000 116,097,000 1.40 -600,000
Serbia 1995 10,204,000 9,856,000 9,193,000 1.69 -28,000
Germany 2005 82,409,000 82,057,000 70,504,000 1.41 -400,000
Italy 2015 60,604,000 60,098,000 57,066,000 1.30 -162,000
Portugal 2015 10,787,000 10,732,000 10,015,000 1.49 -40,000
Greece 2020 11,284,000 11,183,000 10,939,000 1.36 -21,000
Slovakia 2020 5,442,000 5,412,000 4,917,000 1.34 -24,000
Slovenia 2020 2,053,000 2,025,000 1,954,000 1.27 -4,000
Andorra2 2025 85,112 84,525 74,765 1.32 -715
Czech Republic 2025 10,573,000 10,411,000 10,294,000 1.23 -8,000
Macedonia2 2025 2,119,511 2,072,086 1,990,728 1.58 -8,497
Albania 2030 3,416,000 3,169,000 3,303,000 2.02 -10,000
Finland 2030 5,544,000 5,346,000 5,445,000 1.73 -5,000
Liechtenstein2 2030 37,933 35,002 35,911 1.51 -37
Malta 2030 427,000 410,000 413,000 1.51 -1,000
Montenegro 2030 634,000 626,000 618,000 1.83 -1,000
Austria 2035 8,639,000 8,387,000 8,515,000 1.38 -11,000
Denmark 2035 5,621,000 5,481,000 5,551,000 1.74 -6,000
Monaco2 2035 32,550 30,586 29,810 1.75 -281
Netherlands 2035 17,572,000 16,653,000 17,399,000 1.66 -18,000
San Marino2 2040 36,311 31,477 35,178 1.35 -150
Azerbaijan 2045 10,614,000 8,934,000 10,579,000 2.05 -7,000
Iceland 2050 407,000 329,000 407,000 1.91 0
Belgium After 2050 After 2050 10,698,000 11,493,000 1.65 4,000
Cyprus After 2050 After 2050 880,000 1,175,000 1.79 6,000
France After 2050 After 2050 62,637,000 67,668,000 1.98 1,000
Ireland After 2050 After 2050 4,589,000 6,295,000 1.85 30,000
Kazakhstan After 2050 After 2050 15,753,000 17,848,000 1.88 9,000
Luxembourg After 2050 After 2050 492,000 733,000 1.78 6,000
Norway After 2050 After 2050 4,855,000 5,947,000 1.78 18,000
Spain After 2050 After 2050 45,317,000 51,260,000 1.30 27,000
Sweden After 2050 After 2050 9,293,000 10,571,000 1.67 26,000
Switzerland After 2050 After 2050 7,595,000 8,514,000 1.44 18,000
Turkey After 2050 After 2050 75,705,000 97,389,000 1.87 191,000
United Kingdom After 2050 After 2050 61,899,000 72,365,000 1.66 211,000

Table3 last updated January 8, 2011

Notes

1. The meaning of the column headers:

  • Country — All European countries except the Vatican.
  • Peak Year — The estimated population peak year, to a resolution of 5 years.
  • Peak — The estimated population peak.
  • 2010 — Essentially the current population.
  • 2050 — The estimated population in 2050.
  • TFR — The Total Fertility Rate is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime.
  • Year Δ — The estimated yearly change in population from 2045 to 2050.

2. International Data Base, all others World Population Prospects.
3. The more conservative medium fertility variant was used for most countries. Fertility is assumed to converge eventually toward a level of 1.85 children per woman. However, not all countries reach this level by 2045-2050. Projection procedures differ slightly depending on whether a country had a total fertility above or below 1.85 children per woman in 2005-2010.

Sources

External Articles

This list is updated occasionally, with newer additions listed first.

Rickety signature.

Comments

  1. What about muslims that migrate to the europe, will they increase it’s population?

    • It is not the size of the population (up to a point) that matters. It is the ratio of workers to retirees that is the important statistic. Efforts by governments to increase the number of births is usually aimed at improving this worker-retiree ratio.

      Hence if Muslims integrate well in Europe and do not have high rates of unemployment, this should help pay for retirees needed services. It seems though that in some European countries there is high unemployment among Muslims and that they will not, or are not allowed to, integrate well.

      The numbers I cite in the table take into account, as far as possible, the effects of immigrants on the population. So it seems that immigrants will help the population to decrease less.

      As far as the U.S. is concerned, if not for immigrants, the population would be falling. With world fertility rates decreasing for over 50 years, there will not be enough immigrants available to improve all developed nations’ deteriorating worker-retiree ratios (see World Total Fertility Rate Declines).

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