An ever smaller, ever older population – EDJ News

A study published by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) in March 2020 offers a fascinating insight into the European Union’s demographic outlook, as well as that of countries around the world. The report analyses the influence of demography on a disparate range of sectors including the economy, the labour market, pensions, health, the environment and nutrition. In the EU context, it’s interesting to see how the data on Balkan countries often contrasts with that of member states.

Slow growth and an ageing population: these are the two major trends emerging in Europe. From 1960 to 2019, the total population of current EU member states grew from 406.7 million to 513.5 million, but the following decades are expected to bring a reversal (falling from 524.7 million in 2040 to 504.5 million in 2080). The European outlook is in stark contrast with the constant, intense growth at the global level: from around 3 billion people in 1960, it is expected the world population will grow to 10 billion in 2057.

The ageing problem

The ageing of the European population poses a problem for all member states. In 2001, for every older person there were four people of working-age, while in 2050 there are expected to be just two working-age people to support each person over 65. In 2070, the average age in Croatia will reach 52.6, the highest in Europe. 

The ageing of the population depends on two main factors: an increase in life expectancy, and a constantly declining birth rate. According to the data, the current life expectancy in Europe is 82.6 for women, and 77.1 for men. In the early 1960s these figures were 72 and 67, respectively. As far as the birth rate is concerned, until 1970 every woman had on average 2.1 children, while now they have 1.6.

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Text & Image Source: EDJNet – The European Data Journalism Network, distribute under CC BY 4.0 International licence.

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