Population statistics at regional level

Data extracted in March 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: September 2018.

Maps can be explored interactively using Eurostat’s Statistical Atlas (see user manual).

Figure 1: Population change, EU-28, 1961–2015
(millions)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)
Map 1: Life expectancy at birth, by NUTS 2 regions, 2015
(years)
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_mlifexp) and (demo_mlexpec)
Figure 2: Gender gap for life expectancy at birth, by NUTS 2 regions, 2015
(difference in years between the life expectancy of females and males)
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_mlifexp) and (demo_mlexpec)
Figure 3: Median age of the population, by NUTS 3 regions, 1 January 2016
(years)
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_pjanind3) and (demo_pjanind)
Map 2: Crude rate of total population change, by NUTS 3 regions, 2015
(per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_gind3) and (demo_gind)
Map 3: Crude rate of net migration (plus statistical adjustment), by NUTS 3 regions, 2015
(per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_gind3) and (demo_gind)
Figure 4: Crude birth rate, by NUTS 2 regions, 2015
(number of live births per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_gind3) and (demo_gind)
Map 4: Mean age of women at childbirth, by NUTS 2 regions, 2015
(years)
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_find2) and (demo_find)
Map 5: Total fertility rate, by NUTS 3 regions, 2015
(number of live births per woman)
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_frate3) and (demo_find)
Figure 5: Infant mortality rate, by NUTS 2 regions, 2015
(deaths per 1 000 live births)
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_minfind) and (demo_minfind)
Figure 6: Crude death rate, by NUTS 2 regions, 2015
(number of deaths per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_gind3) and (demo_gind)

This article forms part of Eurostat’s annual flagship publication, the Eurostat regional yearbook. There are considerable differences in regional demographic patterns across the European Union (EU) from overcrowded, dynamic, metropolises which may have relatively youthful populations to more remote, rural regions that may have declining population numbers and poor access to a range of services. Statistics on regional demography are one of the few areas where detailed NUTS level 3 data are collected and published for each of the EU Member States, EFTA and candidate countries. At the time of writing, the latest information is available for vital demographic events (live births and deaths) and a range of demographic indicators up to 2015, with statistics on the size and structure of the population available through to 1 January 2016.

Main statistical findings

  • On average, a baby born in the EU-28 in 2015 could expect to live 80.6 years.
  • Net migration to the EU-28 in 2015 was 1.9 million: this was the highest level recorded since records began in 1961. A majority of the regions with the highest rates of net migration were situated in Germany, reflecting the large number of asylum seekers and refugees arriving during 2015.
  • The highest crude birth rate across the NUTS level 2 regions of the EU was recorded in the overseas French region of Mayotte (38.9 births per 1 000 inhabitants); this figure was more than six times as high as the lowest birth rate (6.2 births per 1 000 inhabitants) which was recorded in the northern Spanish region of Principado de Asturias.
  • The average age of women at childbirth peaked in Inner London - West at 33.5 years, suggesting that in this capital city region there was a growing number of women who chose to delay childbirth in order to be able to continue participating in further education and/or to establish themselves professionally within their chosen career.
  • 2015 was the first year on record when there were more deaths than live births in the EU-28. There were 5.22 million deaths in 2015, the highest number recorded since records began in 1961; the number of deaths rose by 5.7 % when compared with 2014, reflecting the growing number of elderly people in the EU’s population.

This article presents demographic developments across the EU; it provides a picture of vital demographic events from the cradle to the grave, contrasting time series with the latest information available. The average population of the EU-28 increased each and every year between 1961 and 2010. After falling by 282 thousand inhabitants in 2011 (which may be attributed to the revision of population statistics for Germany following the 2011 census), the upward pattern of population growth resumed and by 2015 there were 509.4 million inhabitants living in the EU-28 (see Figure 1). The average population of the EU-28 rose by 97.7 million inhabitants between 1961 and 2015, equivalent to an average increase of 0.4 % per annum.

Historically, overall population growth in the EU has largely reflected developments in natural population change (the total number of births minus the total number of deaths), with a relatively minor role being played by migratory patterns. A closer examination shows that natural population increase in the EU was considerably higher in the 1960s than it is today. From the 1970s onwards, the rate of natural population growth started to slow, both as a result of lower numbers of live births and increasing numbers of deaths. By 2015, despite the considerably higher number of inhabitants in the EU-28 (compared with 1961), there were 2.5 million fewer live births; by contrast, the number of deaths had risen by 1.1 million when compared with 1961. Indeed, 2015 was the first year on record (for an EU-28 time series) that the natural change in population was negative, as the number of deaths exceeded the number of live births by 117 thousand.

Since many of the EU Member States do not have accurate figures on immigration and emigration, net migration (the difference between immigration and emigration) often has to be estimated; this is usually done by analysing the difference between the total population change and the natural change each year. Net migration (including statistical adjustment) was broadly balanced in the EU-28 during the period from the 1960s to the 1980s, with both positive and negative changes; as such, the impact of net migration on the overall changes in population numbers during this period was relatively weak. Since the start of the 1990s, a pattern of higher numbers of migrants entering the EU has emerged. Some of the peaks for net migration that are visible in Figure 1 may be associated with a range of international migration and refugee crises and resulting displaced persons, for example, former Yugoslavia during the 1990s, Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s, or Syria more recently. While natural population change was responsible for most of the population change in the EU during the 1960s and 1970s, this pattern slowly diminished as the difference between the number of births and deaths gradually narrowed. By 1992, the impact of net migration on total population change outweighed that of natural population change and thereafter became the primary factor for explaining overall population change as the number of births and deaths in the EU-28 became broadly balanced.

Life expectancy

CH-2 life-expectancy RYB17.png
Life expectancy at birth has historically risen, with increased longevity attributed to a range of factors including improved socio-economic and environmental conditions or better medical treatment and care. During the period from 2003 to 2014, life expectancy in the EU-28 increased by 3.2 years, rising from an initial value of 77.7 years. However, 2015 was the first year since an EU-28 time series began in 2003 that there was a reduction, as life expectancy fell by 0.3 years to an average of 80.6 years.

Life expectancy in the EU ranged from a high of 84.5 years in the Spanish capital region down to 73.5 regions in the north-western Bulgarian region of Severozapaden — a difference of 11 years

Map 1 presents life expectancy at birth for NUTS level 2 regions, detailing the average (mean) number of years that a new born child could expect to live if subjected throughout his/her life to current mortality conditions. In 2015, there were 21 NUTS level 2 regions where life expectancy at birth was 83 years or more (as shown by the darkest shade of yellow in Map 1); these were principally located in a band that ran from central through northern Spain (eight regions), into southern France (three regions) and across to northern and central regions of Italy (also eight regions). The only two exceptions located outside of this band were the capital city regions, Île de France (France) and Inner London - West (the United Kingdom). The highest life expectancy in the EU-28 among NUTS level 2 regions was recorded in another capital city region, namely, Comunidad de Madrid (84.5 years), the Spanish capital city region.

At the other end of the range, there were 42 NUTS level 2 regions where average life expectancy in 2015 was less than 78 years (as shown by the lightest shade of yellow in Map 1). These regions were predominantly located in the eastern regions of the EU, including: all six regions from Bulgaria, all seven regions from Hungary and all eight regions from Romania, as well as three out of four regions from Slovakia, 11 out of 16 regions from Poland, one out of two regions from Croatia, and two out of eight regions from the Czech Republic. Two of the three Baltic Member States, Latvia and Lithuania (both single regions at this level of detail) and the outermost regions of Mayotte (France) and Região Autónoma dos Açores (Portugal) were the only other EU regions where average life expectancy at birth was below 78 years. The lowest life expectancy at birth in 2015 was recorded in the north-western Bulgarian region of Severozapaden, at 73.5 years. As such, the difference in life expectancy between Severozapaden and Comunidad de Madrid was 11 years.

The largest gender gap for life expectancy was recorded in Lithuania — life expectancy was 10.5 years higher for women than for men

It is important to note that while Map 1 presents information for the whole population, there remain considerable differences in life expectancy between the sexes — despite evidence showing that this gender gap has been gradually closing in most of the EU Member States. In the EU-28, life expectancy at birth of women (83.3 years in 2015) was, on average, 5.4 years higher than the corresponding figure for men (77.9 years).

Figure 2 illustrates this gap between the sexes for life expectancy for NUTS level 2 regions: the biggest gaps, where women were likely, on average, to live more than 8.0 years longer than men, were all concentrated in the north-eastern corner of the EU, within the three Baltic Member States (all single regions at this level of detail) and eight Polish regions. In most of the EU Member States there was usually quite a narrow range when analysing the highest and lowest regional gender gaps. However, there were wider regional differences in three of the Member States, largely attributable to a single outlier: for example, there was a relatively large gap in life expectancy between the sexes across the vast majority of regions in Spain, France and Finland, aside from the territory of Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla (Spain), the overseas region of Mayotte (France), or the island region of Åland (Finland), where the gender gap was much smaller.

Median age

With life expectancy at birth rising for successive generations and with historically low fertility rates, it is not surprising to find that the median age of the EU-28’s population continued to increase in recent years. It rose by 2.8 years during the most recent decade for which data are available, reaching 42.6 years on 1 January 2016. Figure 3 shows that the median age ranged between 36.7 years in Ireland and 45.7 years in Germany, suggesting relatively young and relatively old population structures in these EU Member States. The median age rose in every one of the Member States during the period between 1 January 2006 and 1 January 2016, with increases of more than 4.0 years recorded in Romania, Lithuania, Greece and Portugal, while the smallest rises were registered in Luxembourg (1.0 year) and Sweden (0.6 years).

The median age in the central Greek region of Evrytania was 53.6 years, which was slightly more than three times as high as in the French overseas region of Mayotte

The highest median age among any of the NUTS level 3 regions was recorded in the central Greek region of Evrytania (53.6 years), where the population declined by more than 1.0 % in 2015, in part due to a relatively high net outward migration. By contrast, the lowest median age (17.8 years) among NUTS level 3 regions was recorded in the overseas French region of Mayotte, which also had the lowest life expectancy at birth (76.5 years) among French regions at NUTS level 2; note the geographical coverage of Mayotte is identical at NUTS levels 2 and 3.

An analysis for capital city regions — again based on NUTS level 3 — shows that these regions usually recorded a median age that was below their respective national average. There were three exceptions to this rule among the EU Member States: in Poland and Slovakia the median age of the population living in Miasto Warszawa (41.0 years) and in Bratislavský kraj (39.9 years) was some 1.1 years and 0.5 years higher than the respective national average; the median age in three of the four Greek capital city regions (Dytikos Tomeas Athinon was the exception) was also higher than the national average. By contrast, the lowest (or joint lowest) median ages were recorded in the capital city regions of 10 EU Member States. Among these, the largest gaps (in years) between the median age for the capital city region and the national average were recorded for the Danish capital city region, Byen København (where the median age was 7.6 years lower than the national average), the Belgian capital city region, Arr. de Bruxelles-Capitale/Arr. van Brussel-Hoofdstad (5.9 years lower) and the Bulgarian capital city region, Sofia stolitsa (4.1 years lower). In those cases where the capital city region did not record the lowest median age, it was often the case that the lowest median was registered by a region characterised by its relatively high number of university students, for example, Heidelberg Stadtkreis in Germany, Overig Groningen in the Netherlands, Gdanski in Poland or Manchester in the United Kingdom.

Population change

The EU-28’s population increased each and every year between 1 January 1960 and 1 January 2016, with the exception of 2011 (as noted above, the reduction in 2011 may be attributed to the revision of population statistics in Germany following the census); during these 56 years, the total number of inhabitants living in the EU-28 rose by 103.6 million. There are wide-ranging differences in patterns of demographic change across the EU, some of the most common medium-term developments may be summarised as follows:

  • a capital region effect, as populations continue to expand in and around many capital cities which exert a ‘pull effect’ on national and international migrants associated with (perceived) education and/or employment opportunities;
  • an urban–rural split, with the majority of urban regions continuing to report population growth, while the number of persons resident in many peripheral, rural and post-industrial regions declines;
  • a north–south split between EU Member States, with a high proportion of the population in northern Member States being single and living alone, whereas Mediterranean regions are often characterised by lower birth rates but a more important role for family units;
  • regional divergences within individual EU Member States which may impact on regional competitiveness and cohesion, for example, between the eastern and the western regions of Germany, or between northern and southern regions of Belgium, Italy and the United Kingdom.

These general patterns were, to some degree, overtaken by events in 2015, as a result of very large numbers of asylum seekers and refugees arriving in and moving within the EU. The majority came from the Middle East or sub-Saharan Africa, either crossing the Mediterranean or making the journey northwards by land and passing from the Balkans into the EU. The impact of this mass movement of people was considerable and is reflected in the statistics presented below.

Map 2 presents the crude rate of total population change in 2015: the overall change in population is composed of two different effects, natural population change (the difference between births and deaths) and net migration (plus statistical adjustment) — see the box below for more details. Between 1 January 2015 and 1 January 2016, the population of the EU-28 rose by 1.8 million inhabitants, equivalent to a growth rate of 3.5 per 1 000 inhabitants. Among the 1 342 NUTS level 3 regions shown in Map 2, a considerable majority (835) reported an increase in their overall number of inhabitants, while there were 505 regions that recorded a decline in population numbers, leaving two regions with no change.

Measuring population change Population change may be defined as the difference in the size of a population between the end and the beginning of a given time period (usually one year); more specifically, this period is usually the difference in population size on 1 January of two consecutive years.

Population change has two components:

  • natural population change (the number of live births minus the number of deaths);
  • net migration (the number of immigrants minus the number of emigrants), plus statistical adjustment; it should be noted that net migration as referred to in the context of population change statistics includes the statistical adjustments occurring in the annual balance of the population and that it serves the purpose of closing this balance.

A positive population change, when the result of net migration plus live births minus deaths is positive, is referred to as population growth (or a population increase), whereas a negative change is referred to as population decline (or a population decrease).

The crude rate of population change is the ratio of total population change during the year to the average population for the year in question; this value is expressed per 1 000 inhabitants.

The fastest rate of overall population growth within the EU was recorded in Trier Kreisfreie Stadt (western Germany); its total number of inhabitants rose by 5.8 % in 2015

In 2015, the fastest expanding populations were often concentrated in Germany or Austria, while there was also relatively high population growth in the south-eastern corner of the United Kingdom, the southern regions of the Nordic Member States, as well as several regions in Belgium, France and Luxembourg (a single region at the this level of detail). More specifically, the darkest shade of blue in Map 2 shows the 243 NUTS level 3 regions where the population grew, on average, by at least 12 per 1 000 inhabitants during 2015; these included 51 regions where population growth was at least 20 per 1 000 inhabitants (or 2.0 %). The majority (35) of these were located in Germany, while there were 10 regions from the United Kingdom (seven of which were in London; the other three were Coventry, Central Bedfordshire and Manchester), two regions from Austria (the urban regions of Innsbruck and Wien), and a single region from each of Belgium (Arr. Bastogne), France (the overseas region of Mayotte), Luxembourg (a single region at this level of detail) and Romania (Ilfov, which surrounds the capital city region, Bucuresti).

There were only five regions in the EU-28 where the population grew by at least 40 per 1 000 inhabitants in 2015. The highest crude rates of population growth were recorded in two German regions, Trier Kreisfreie Stadt (58 per 1 000 inhabitants) in the west and Schwerin Kreisfreie Stadt (49 per 1 000 inhabitants) in the north and three regions from London, Tower Hamlets in the east of the city (55 per 1 000 inhabitants) and Westminster (46 per 1 000 inhabitants) and Camden & City of London (42 per 1 000 inhabitants) in central London. A closer analysis reveals that the vast majority of the growth in population numbers in all five of these regions could be attributed to net migration (as opposed to natural population growth). Indeed, in the two German regions, the natural rate of population change was negative, in other words, there were more deaths than births.

The most rapid reductions in population were registered in the Baltic Member States, as well as some of the more rural and/or sparsely populated eastern and southernmost regions of the EU. There were 81 regions where the crude rate of total population change in 2015 was -10 per 1 000 inhabitants or less. These included 7 out of the 11 regions in Lithuania (the other four also recorded negative rates), four out of six regions in Latvia (the other two also recorded negative rates), slightly more than half of the Bulgarian (16 out of 28) and Croatian (11 out of 21) regions, as well as 11 regions from Romania, 10 regions from Spain, seven regions each from Greece and Portugal, four regions from Hungary, two regions from Estonia, and a single region each from Finland (Kainuu) and the United Kingdom (Blackpool).

There were 1.2 million migrant arrivals in Germany

As noted above, the overall change in population numbers in 2015 was impacted upon by atypical patterns of net migration. The information presented in Map 3 concerns crude rates of net migration and is based on the total number of people migrating into each region from: other regions of the same Member State; from other regions in different EU Member States; or from non-member countries outside the EU. The distribution of regions in Map 3 is quite similar to the distribution for the crude rate of total population change (Map 2), underlining the fact that migratory patterns were often the principal factor in determining overall population change in 2015.

The highest crude rates of net migration were recorded in the two German regions of Trier Kreisfreie Stadt and Schwerin Kreisfreie Stadt. Alongside these, there were numerous other German regions that had very high crude rates of net migration in 2015, a pattern that could be associated with the dramatic influx of asylum seekers and refugees principally from the Middle East or the Balkans. The considerable influx of migrants into Germany during 2015 (net arrivals of 1.2 million) was broadly distributed across the whole of the German territory, as just six of the 402 NUTS level 3 German regions recorded a crude rate of net migration that was below the EU-28 average.

The regions with the highest crude rates of net migration were often those that also appeared at the top of the ranking for total population change, as natural population change was often close to being balanced. Aside from the two German and three London regions mentioned above, the remainder of the top 10 were also German regions (Bremerhaven, Kreisfreie Stadt; Lüchow-Dannenberg; Osnabrück, Kreisfreie Stadt; Heidekreis; Ansbach, Kreisfreie Stadt). Looking in more detail, there were 302 regions where the crude rate of net migration was at least 12 per 1 000 inhabitants (as shown by the darkest shade in Map 3); the vast majority (264) of these were located in Germany. Those regions with some of the highest rates were often characterised by the presence of migrant reception centres and/or refugee shelters.

There were 416 NUTS level 3 regions in the EU-28 where net migration in 2015 was negative (in other words, where more people left a region than arrived in it) and in 65 of these the crude rate was less than -6.0 per 1 000 inhabitants. These regions were predominantly located across the Baltic Member States, eastern and southernmost regions of the EU. Among the exceptions was the EU region with the most rapid reduction in its population as a result of net migration, namely, the sparsely-populated and heavily-forested Finnish region of Kainuu (which borders onto Russia), where the crude rate of net migration was -46 per 1 000 inhabitants.

Although an analysis of regional population changes supports the view that the leading factor affecting population changes in 2015 was net migration, there were some EU regions where natural change also played an important role. Aside from the overseas French regions of Mayotte (36 per 1 000 inhabitants) and Guyane (23 per 1 000 inhabitants), the highest rates of natural population growth were recorded in the eastern London regions of Hackney & Newham (14 per 1 000 inhabitants) and Tower Hamlets (12 per 1 000 inhabitants) and the north-eastern Parisian suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis (13 per 1 000 inhabitants).

At the other end of the range, it is interesting to note that in 2015 the number of live births was lower than the number of deaths in a majority of the NUTS level 3 regions of the EU. This pattern was particularly prevalent across many rural and sparsely populated regions that were characterised by population age structures skewed in favour of older generations. The biggest decline in the crude rate of natural population change was recorded in the north-western Bulgarian region of Vidin (-16 per 1 000 inhabitants), while six additional regions from Bulgaria (principally from the north-west), as well as two regions from the Portuguese interior, and single regions from Germany, Greece, Croatia, Lithuania and Romania also recorded double-digit negative rates.

Birth and fertility rates

This section presents information on crude birth rates (the ratio of the number of births to the average population, expressed per 1 000 inhabitants), the average (mean) age of women at childbirth, and fertility rates (the mean number of children born per woman). One of the main reasons why there has been a slowdown in EU population growth is that women are, on average, having fewer children; such historically low fertility rates have also impacted on the gradual ageing of the EU’s population structure.

The EU-28 crude birth rate was 10.0 births per 1 000 inhabitants in 2015. Across the EU Member States, this rate peaked at 14.0 births per 1 000 inhabitants in Ireland and was also relatively high in France (12.0 births), the United Kingdom (11.9 births) and Sweden (11.7 births). At the other end of the range, the crude birth rate was 10.0 births per 1 000 inhabitants or lower across many eastern (Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovenia) and southern regions (Greece, Spain, Italy, Malta and Portugal), as well as in Germany and Austria.

The lowest crude birth rate was recorded in the northern Spanish region of the Principado de Asturias

Figure 4 shows crude birth rates for NUTS level 2 regions in 2015. Some EU Member States reported very homogeneous regional crude birth rates, for example in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland. Others were more heterogeneous, often because of just one or a few regions with particularly high rates: this was the case in the three French overseas regions of Mayotte (38.9 births per 1 000 inhabitants), Guyane (26.2) and La Réunion (16.5), as well as the Spanish territory of Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla (17.8). They were followed by a number of capital city regions and regions within close proximity of capitals, for example: Inner London - East and Outer London - East (both 15.7), the Région de Bruxelles-Capitale/Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (15.4), Outer London - West and North West (14.9), Île de France (14.8) Southern and Eastern Ireland (14.3), Outer London - South (14.3). Furthermore, one Irish region, five more regions from the United Kingdom, as well as the Swedish capital city region, Stockholm recorded rates of 13.0–14.0 births per 1 000 inhabitants. It is interesting to note that in all of the multi-regional EU Member States, the crude birth rate for the capital city region was at least as high as the national average.

Two of the three lowest crude birth rates (less than 7.0 births per 1 000 inhabitants in 2015) were recorded for Italian regions, Liguria in the north-western corner — a popular retirement location — and the island region of Sardegna. However, the lowest birth rate among NUTS level 2 regions was recorded in the northern Spanish region of Principado de Asturias (6.2 births per 1 000 inhabitants).

In Inner London - West the average age of women at childbirth was 33.5 years, this was 7.5 years higher than in the Bulgarian region of Yugoiztochen

With women tending to have fewer children, one consequence is that it becomes more common to postpone the decision of when to have a child. This pattern may, at least in part, also be attributed to a growing number of women participating in further education and trying to establish a professional career before deciding to start a family.

CH-2 mean-age-of-women-at-childbirth RYB17.png

In 2015, the average (mean) age of women in the EU-28 giving birth was 30.5 years, while the mean age of women at childbirth was at least 30.0 years in a majority of the EU Member States. The highest average age for giving birth was recorded in Spain, at 31.9 years, while Italy, Ireland and Luxembourg each recorded averages that were within 0.4 years of this peak. The lowest mean ages at childbirth were recorded in Slovakia (28.8 years), Romania (27.7 years) and Bulgaria (27.4 years).

Looking in more detail, the mean age of women at childbirth was relatively high across most of Spain and Italy (see Map 4). By contrast, in most of the other EU Member States it was commonplace to find that urban regions (in particular, capital city regions) tended to record the highest average ages; this would tend to support the view that some women delay having children in order to pursue a career.

In 2015, the highest average age of women at childbirth across the NUTS level 2 regions of the EU was recorded in the more affluent of the two capital city regions of the United Kingdom, Inner London - West (an average of 33.5 years). The mean age of women at childbirth in the Spanish capital city region, Comunidad de Madrid was also relatively high (32.5 years) although it was surpassed by two northern Spanish regions, namely, País Vasco (32.8 years) and Galicia (32.6 years). Other capital city regions with high average ages of women at childbirth included the Danish, Greek and Italian capital city regions, Hovedstaden, Attiki and Lazio (each recording an average age of 32.1 years), two regions from the Netherlands (Utrecht and the capital city region, Noord-Holland) and the Swedish capital city region, Stockholm (all 32.0 years).

At the other end of the range, the three lowest average ages of women at childbirth in 2015 were all recorded in Bulgaria: Yuzhen tsentralen (26.7 years), Severozapaden (26.4 years) and Yugoiztochen (26.0 years). There were two further Bulgarian regions among the 27 EU regions that reported an average age of women at childbirth of less than 29.0 years (as shown by the lightest shade of yellow in Map 4), along with seven out of the eight Romanian regions (the only exception was the capital city region, Bucuresti - Ilfov), five regions from northern and western Poland, three overseas French regions, two regions each from northern Hungary, central and eastern Slovakia, and north-eastern England (in the United Kingdom), and a single region from the north-west of the Czech Republic. Many of these regions with low average ages for women at childbirth were characterised as either rural regions or former industrial regions in decline.

The highest fertility rates were recorded in France: the overseas island region of Mayotte recorded the highest value of 5.02 births per woman, while for mainland regions the rate peaked in Seine-Saint-Denis (2.47 births)

In developed economies, a total fertility rate of 2.10 live births per woman is considered to be the natural replacement rate, in other words, the level at which the size of the population would remain stable, in the long-run, if there were no inward or outward migration. Having fallen for several decades, the total fertility rate in the EU showed some signs of recovering at the start of the 21st century, as it rose from a low of 1.46 live births per woman in 2001 to reach an average of 1.62 births by 2010. Thereafter, the EU-28 fertility rate dipped again to 1.55 in 2013 before a modest recovery to 1.58 children in 2014, a figure that was repeated in 2015.

The highest fertility rate among the EU Member States was recorded in France (1.96 live births per woman in 2015), followed by Ireland (1.92), Sweden (1.85) and the United Kingdom (1.80). By contrast, in 13 of the Member States, the total fertility rate was no higher than 1.50 live births per woman. The lowest rate was recorded in Portugal (1.31 live births per woman) in keeping with generally low rates in the southern Member States (1.35 live births or less), as well as Poland (1.32).

Differences in regional fertility may be linked to a range of factors, among others: the socioeconomic structure of the population (for example, educational attainment, occupational status, income or age); place of residence (for example, the availability of infrastructure, childcare facilities, or the housing market); or cultural factors (for example, religious beliefs and customs, attitudes to childbirth outside of marriage, or attitudes to contraception). A closer analysis of regional data reveals that fertility rates tended to be highest across Ireland, much of France (including its overseas regions), in southern regions of the United Kingdom and several Nordic regions; several of these regions were characterised by relatively high levels of migrants. By contrast, some of the lowest fertility rates were recorded for rural regions with relatively low levels of migration and where family units continued to play a relatively important role.

In 2015, there were 27 NUTS level 3 regions that recorded a total fertility rate of at least 2.10 live births — the natural replacement rate — with the majority of these located either in France (11 regions) or the United Kingdom (10 regions). Of the six remaining regions, Ireland was the only other EU Member State to report more than a single region (Border and Mid-West), while the remaining regions included Sliven (Bulgaria), Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla (Spain), Taurages apskritis (Lithuania) and Vaslui (Romania). The overseas French regions of Mayotte and Guyane and the Spanish territory of Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla reported the highest fertility rates in the EU, averaging 5.02, 3.52 and 2.53 live births per woman respectively. They were followed by Seine-Saint-Denis (located next to the French capital city region) and another French overseas region, La Réunion.

There were 161 NUTS level 3 regions where the fertility rate was 1.9 or more (as shown by the darkest shade of yellow in Map 5). By contrast, there were 247 NUTS level 3 regions where the fertility rate was below 1.35 live births per woman in 2015 (as shown by the lightest shade of yellow in Map 5). Among the latter, there were five regions where the fertility rate averaged less than 1.00 live birth per woman and all of these were located in the south of the EU: Zamora (north-west Spain); Carbonia-Iglesias (south-west Sardegna, Italy); Alto Tâmega (northern Portugal); Fokida (central Greece); and La Gomera (one of the Canary islands, Spain).

The distribution of total fertility rates across NUTS level 3 regions is shown in Map 5: as with the crude birth rate, the regional data shows that there was often a homogeneous distribution in many of the EU Member States. In 2015, the exceptions to this rule were often outliers in overseas regions, for example, Mayotte, Guyane, La Réunion and Guadeloupe (all France). However, even after excluding these special cases there was a relatively wide range in regional fertility rates across France and this diversity could even be observed for regions within close geographical proximity of each other, for example, (central) Paris, where the total fertility rate was 1.55 live births per woman and the neighbouring region of Seine-Saint-Denis, where it averaged 2.47. A similar situation was found in the United Kingdom, with relatively low fertility rates recorded among the affluent, central London regions of Camden & City of London (1.21), Westminster (1.24) or Kensington and Chelsea & Hammersmith and Fulham (1.32), whereas the total fertility rate rose to 2.17 live births per woman in the less well-off, outer London region of Barking and Dagenham & Havering.

Infant mortality

The significant increases recorded for life expectancy in the EU are not exclusively due to increased longevity: rather, they may at least in part be attributed to a reduction in infant mortality rates. To give some idea of the rapid pace of change, the EU-28 infant mortality rate was 36.2 deaths per 1 000 live births in 1961 (the first reference year for which a value exists), this was approximately 10 times as high as the latest figure available, as the infant mortality rate was 3.6 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2015.

Figure 5 shows the range in infant mortality rates among NUTS level 2 regions. Among the EU Member States, national averages ranged in 2015 from highs of 7.6 and 6.6 deaths per 1 000 live births in Romania and Bulgaria, down to 2.5 or less deaths per 1 000 live births in Estonia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland and Slovenia, the latter recording the lowest rate at 1.6 deaths per 1 000 live births.

For the fifth consecutive year there were no infant deaths in the Finnish island region of Åland

In 2015 there were a number of EU Member States that recorded particularly homogeneous infant mortality rates across their regions, including the Nordic Member States, Hungary, Poland and Portugal. By contrast, the range in infant mortality rates was wider in the regions of Spain, Slovakia and France. The highest rates in these three Member States were recorded in the relatively poor overseas and island regions of France and the Spanish autonomous cities or — in the case of Slovenia — the easternmost and poorest region of Východné Slovensko.

There were 17 regions where infant mortality rates rose above 7.0 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2015. Other than the Spanish autonomous cities, French overseas regions and Východné Slovensko, these were exclusively located in Romania (seven regions) or Bulgaria (four regions). The lowest infant mortality rate in the EU was recorded for the island region of Åland (Finland) where no child aged less than one year died (thus, the infant mortality rate was 0.0); this was the fifth consecutive year that a rate of zero had been recorded in this region. The next lowest rates (1.3 deaths per 1 000 live births) were recorded in the north-eastern Finnish region of Pohjois- ja Itä-Suomi and in the western Austrian region of Tirol. There were 16 NUTS level 2 regions across the EU which recorded infant mortality rates of less than 2.0 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2015, including the capital city regions of Finland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and the United Kingdom (Inner London - West). Indeed, it was relatively common to find capital city regions with low infant mortality rates and this pattern was repeated across most of the multi-regional eastern EU Member States. However, in Austria, Denmark, France and Portugal, the infant mortality rate for the capital city region was above the national average.

Death rates

Crude death rates generally reflect the age structure of the population as elderly persons are more likely to die and the likelihood of catching/contracting a specific illness/disease or dying from an external cause; as such, adverse weather conditions or an outbreak of a particular disease may impact on annual rates.

In 2015, there were 5.22 million deaths in the EU-28: this was the highest number recorded since a time series for the EU-28 began in 1961. The number of deaths rose by almost 280 thousand or 5.7 % when compared with 2014. Estonia was the only EU Member State to report that its overall number of deaths fell between 2014 and 2015 (down 1.6 %), while there was no significant change in the number of deaths recorded in Latvia. By contrast, the total number of deaths in France, Austria, Germany, Croatia, Greece and Spain rose by more than 6.0 %, while even higher rates of change were recorded in Italy (8.2 %) and Cyprus (11.6 %).

The EU-28 crude death rate was 10.2 deaths per 1 000 inhabitants in 2015, with this ratio ranging from a high of 15.3 in Bulgaria and 14.4 in both Latvia and Lithuania, down to 8.0 or fewer deaths per 1 000 inhabitants in Malta, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Ireland.

Crude death rates were often relatively low in capital city regions, as working age people accounted for a higher than average share of their total number of inhabitants

Figure 6 shows how crude death rates varied among NUTS level 2 regions in 2015; it may be contrasted with Figure 4 which shows a similar analysis for crude birth rates; generally there was a much wider range when analysing the distribution of regional death rates within each of the EU Member States. The highest crude death rates were recorded in those regions characterised by relatively old population structures: this was particularly the case in several of the eastern and southern EU Member States, the Baltic Member States and Germany. Four Bulgarian regions recorded the highest crude death rates in the EU, ranging from 15.0 to 19.9 deaths per 1 000 inhabitants, with a peak in the northern region of Severozapaden; the other regions were Yuzhen tsentralen, Yugoiztochen and Severen tsentralen.

At the other end of the range, the lowest crude death rates were recorded in two of the French overseas regions — Guyane and Mayotte — both characterised by their relatively youthful population structures. Other regions with relatively low death rates included both of the capital city regions of the United Kingdom, namely, Inner London - East (4.5) and Inner London - West (5.0), another French overseas region, La Réunion (5.3), and the Dutch region of Flevoland (5.6) which is located just to the east of the capital city of Amsterdam; each of these regions is characterised by a relatively young population. In nearly all of the multi-regional Member States, the crude death rate for the capital city region was below the national average, the only exceptions to this rule were Poland (where the capital city region, Mazowieckie, recorded a death rate that was identical to the national average) and Croatia.

Data sources and availability

Eurostat collects a wide range of regional demographic statistics: these include data on population numbers and various demographic events which influence the population’s size, structure and specific characteristics. The data may be used for a wide range of planning, monitoring and evaluating actions, for example, to:

  • analyse population ageing and its effects on sustainability and welfare;
  • evaluate the economic impact of demographic change;
  • calculate per inhabitant ratios and indicators — such as regional gross domestic product per capita, which may be used to allocate structural funds to economically less advantaged regions;
  • develop and monitor migration and asylum systems.

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 a political, economic, social or cultural context. The European Parliament passed a resolution on ‘Demographic change and its consequences for the future of the EU’s cohesion policy’ (2013/C 153 E/02) which underlined that demographic developments in the regions should be statistically measured and stressed that demographic change should be considered as a cross-cutting objective in future cohesion policy.

For more information:
Population change — demographic balance and crude rates at regional level

NUTS

The data presented in this article are based exclusively on the 2013 version of NUTS.

Indicator definitions

Glossary entries on Statistics Explained are available for a wide range of demographic concepts/indicators, including: life expectancy at birth, population change, natural change, net migration plus statistical adjustment, the crude birth rate, the crude death rate, the total fertility rate and the infant mortality rate. Crude rates of change may be calculated for total population change, natural population change and net migration plus statistical adjustment. In all cases, the level of change during the year is compared with the average population of the area in question in the same year and the resulting ratio is expressed per 1 000 inhabitants.

For more information:
Dedicated section on population (demography, migration and projections)

Context

Demographic changes in the EU are likely be of considerable importance in the coming years as most models for future population trends suggest that the EU’s population will continue to age as a result of consistently low levels of fertility and extended longevity. Although migration can play an important role in the population dynamics within many of the EU Member States, it is unlikely that it can reverse the ongoing trend of population ageing.

The social and economic consequences associated with population ageing are likely to have profound implications across the EU, both nationally and regionally. For example, low fertility rates will lead to a reduction in the number of students in education, there will be fewer working-age persons to support the remainder of the populace, and there will be a higher proportion of elderly persons (some of whom will require additional infrastructure, healthcare services and adapted housing). These structural demographic changes could impact on the capacity of governments to raise tax revenue, balance their own finances, or provide adequate pensions and healthcare services.

Policy developments

Future demographic developments have driven a range of policy developments, in particular within the fields of employment and social policy, health policy, and policies concerning free movement, asylum and migration, see: ‘The demographic future of Europe — from challenge to opportunity’ (COM(2006) 571 final).

Five of the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy have a particular demographic dimension. The innovation union provides an opportunity to bring together public and private actors at various territorial levels to tackle a number of challenges, and in 2011 a European innovation partnership on active and healthy ageing was launched: its aim is to raise by two years the average healthy lifespan of Europeans by 2020.

In May 2015, the European Commission presented a European agenda on migration outlining immediate measures to respond to the influx of migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the EU from the Balkans and across the Mediterranean. The agenda also provided a range of options for the longer-term management of migration into the EU, setting out four levels of action for migration policy, namely:

  • a new policy on legal migration — maintaining the EU as an attractive destination for migrants, notably by reprioritising migrant integration policies, managing migration through dialogue and partnerships with non-member countries, and modernising the blue card scheme for highly educated persons from outside the EU;
  • reducing incentives for irregular migration — through a strengthening of the role of Frontex, especially in relation to migrant returns;
  • border management — helping to strengthen the capacity of non-member countries to manage their borders;
  • a strong common asylum policy — to ensure a full and coherent implementation of the common European asylum system.

As a result of the migrant crisis in 2015, the European Commission announced a new assistance instrument for emergency support within the EU in March 2016. The plan allocated some EUR 700 million of aid, over the period 2016–2018, to provide humanitarian assistance through the rapid delivery of food, shelter and healthcare. There followed a number of further initiatives during the remainder of 2016 as the crisis remained high on the political agenda, among which: the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement; additional financial support to Bulgaria, Greece and Italy to help cope with specific migration challenges; further provisions for supporting Syrian refugees (those displaced within Syria and those in other host countries); additional support for the protection of unaccompanied minors; renewed efforts to help save lives at sea and to disrupt smuggler networks; as well as the creation of safe and legal routes for asylum-seekers.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Data visualisation

Publications

Main tables

Regional demographic statistics (t_reg_dem)
Crude rates of population change by NUTS 2 region (tgs00099)
Population on 1 January by NUTS 2 region (tgs00096)

Database

Regional demographic statistics (reg_dem)
Population and area (reg_dempoar)
Fertility (reg_demfer)
Mortality (reg_demmor)
Regional data (demopreg)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

  • Population (ESMS metadata file — demo_pop_esms)

Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)

External links