Population and population change statistics

Data extracted in July 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: July 2016.
Figure 1: Population, EU-28, 1960–2015 (1)
(at 1 January, million persons)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)
Figure 2: Population change by component
(annual crude rates), EU-28, 1960–2014 (1)
(per 1 000 persons)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)
Figure 3: Births and deaths, EU-28, 1961–2014 (1)
(million)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)
Table 1: Demographic balance, 2014
(thousand)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)
Table 2: Crude rates of population change, 2012–14
(per 1 000 persons)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)
Table 3: Contribution of natural change and net migration
(and statistical adjustment) to population change, 2014 (1)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)

This article gives an overview of the development of European Union (EU) population statistics, detailing the two components of population change: natural population change and net migration plus statistical adjustment. More information on net migration is provided within an article on migration and migrant population statistics.

Main statistical findings

EU-28 population continues to grow

The current demographic situation in the EU-28 is characterised by continuing population growth. While the population of the EU-28 as a whole increased during 2014, the population of 12 EU Member States declined.

Croatia joined the EU on 1 July 2013 as its 28th Member State, adding (at that time) a population of 4.3 million to the population of the EU-27. In this article rates and aggregates are presented for the EU-28 for all years, in order to allow an analysis over time.

On 1 January 2015 the population of the EU-28 was estimated at 508.2 million, 1.3 million more than the year before (note that these 2015 figures include a break in series with the addition of the French overseas department of Mayotte). The increase during 2014 was smaller than that during 2013 when the population of the EU-28 increased by 1.7 million.

Over a longer period, the population of the EU-28 grew from 406.7 million in 1960, an increase of 101.5 million people by 2015 (see Figure 1). The rate of population growth has slowed gradually in recent decades: for example, during the period 1994–2014, the EU-28’s population increased, on average, by about 1.3 million persons per year compared with an annual average of around 3.3 million persons per year in the 1960s.

In 2014, natural population increase (the positive difference between live births and deaths) contributed 14.5 % (0.2 million persons) to population growth in the EU-28. Some 85.5 % of the overall change in population therefore came from net migration plus statistical adjustment, which continued to be the main determinant of population growth in the EU, accounting for an increase of nearly 1.0 million persons in 2014.

The contribution of net migration plus statistical adjustment to total population growth in the EU-28 has exceeded the share of natural increase since 1992 (see Figure 2), peaking in 2003 (95 % of the total population growth), decreasing to 58 % in 2009 and returning to its peak of 95 % again in 2013. The share of net migration in total population change was 85.5 % in 2014.

The relatively low contribution of natural change to total population growth is the result of two factors: net migration in the EU-28 increased considerably from the mid-1980s onwards; secondly, the number of live births fell, while the number of deaths increased.

The gap between live births and deaths in the EU-28 narrowed considerably from 1960 onwards (see Figure 3). In the latest years (2013–14), this difference was very low, comparable with the low levels of natural population change that occurred in 2002 and 2003. Since the number of deaths is expected to increase as the baby-boom generation continues to age, and assuming that the fertility rate remains at a relatively low level, negative natural change (more deaths than births) cannot be excluded in the future. In this case, the extent of population decline or growth will depend largely on the contribution made by migration, as is already the case in several EU Member States.

Population change at a national level

The population of individual EU Member States on 1 January 2015 ranged from 0.4 million in Malta to 81.2 million in Germany. Germany, together with France, the United Kingdom and Italy comprised more than half (54 %) of the total EU-28 population on 1 January 2015 (see Table 1).

The population of the EU-28 increased during 2014 by 1.1 million people (the inclusion of the French overseas department of Mayotte as of 1 January 2015 added a further 220.3 thousand persons). Population growth was unevenly distributed across the EU Member States: a total of 16 Member States observed an increase in their respective populations, while the population fell in the remaining 12 Member States. Luxembourg, Sweden, Malta and Austria recorded the highest population growth rates in 2014, with increases above 9.0 per 1 000 persons; more than triple the EU-28 average of 2.2 per 1 000 persons (see Table 2). Among these four EU Member States with the highest rates of population growth, the fastest expansion in population was recorded in Luxembourg with an increase of 23.9 per 1 000 persons. The largest relative decreases in population were reported by Cyprus (-12.9 per 1 000 persons), Greece (-8.4) and Latvia (-7.7). Data for Cyprus show a sharp change in recent years from a fast growing population to one that is decreasing, due mainly to high rates of negative net migration (see below).

Analysing the two components of population change in the national data, eight types of population change can be identified, distinguishing growth or decline and the relative weights of natural change and net migration — see Table 3 for the full typology. In 2014, the highest crude rate of natural increase of population was registered in Ireland (8.1 per 1 000 persons), followed by Cyprus (4.7), France and Luxembourg (both 4.0). A total of 11 EU Member States had negative rates of natural change, with the largest reductions occurring in Bulgaria (-5.7 per 1 000 persons), Romania (-3.5), Latvia and Lithuania (both -3.4) and Hungary (-3.3). In relative terms, Luxembourg (19.9 per 1 000 persons), Austria (8.7), Sweden (7.9), Germany (7.2) and Malta (7.1) had the largest positive crude net migration rates in 2014, while Cyprus (-17.6 per 1 000 persons), Greece (-6.4), Latvia (-4.3) and Lithuania (-4.2) recorded the largest negative net migration rates.

Among the 16 EU Member States where the population increased in 2014, 12 saw both natural increase and net migration contributing to population growth. In Ireland and Slovenia, natural population increase was the sole driver of population growth, as net migration was negative. While this is an established trend for Ireland, it was the first year that negative net migration was recorded for Slovenia. Conversely, population growth in Germany and Italy was solely due to positive net migration, as their natural population change was negative.

A total of 12 EU Member States reported a reduction in their level of population during 2014. In five cases (Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal), this was mainly due to negative net migration supplemented by negative natural change. Conversely, in Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia and Romania the decreasing population was mostly driven by negative natural change that was supplemented by negative net migration. In Hungary, the fall in population was solely due to negative natural change, while net migration was slightly positive. In Spain and Cyprus, the population decreased solely due to negative net migration, which offset the positive natural change.

Data sources and availability

The demographic balance provides an overview of annual demographic developments in the EU Member States; statistics on population change are available in absolute figures and as crude rates.

Population change — or population growth — in a given year is the difference between the population size on 1 January of the given year and the corresponding level from 1 January of the previous year. It consists of two components: natural change and net migration plus statistical adjustment. Natural population change is the difference between the number of live births and the number of deaths. If natural change is positive then it is often referred to as a natural increase. Net migration is the difference between the number of immigrants and the number of emigrants. In the context of the annual demographic balance, Eurostat produces net migration figures by taking the difference between total population change and natural change; this concept is referred to as net migration plus statistical adjustment.

Context

Statistics on population change and the structure of population are increasingly used to support policymaking and to provide the opportunity to monitor demographic behaviour within political, economic, social and cultural contexts. In particular, this concerns demographic developments that focus on a likely reduction in the relative importance of the working-age population and a corresponding increase in the number of older persons. These statistics may be used to support a range of different analyses, including studies relating to population ageing and its effects on the sustainability of public finance and welfare, the evaluation of fertility as a background for family policies, or the economic and social impact of demographic change.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Database

Population (demo_pop)
Regional data (demopreg)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

  • Fertility (ESMS metadata file — demo_fer_esms)
  • Mortality (ESMS metadata file — demo_mor_esms)
  • Population (ESMS metadata file — demo_pop_esms)

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links