Population statistics at regional level
- Data extracted in March 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: June 2016.
This article is part of a set of statistical articles based on the Eurostat regional yearbook publication. It describes regional demographic patterns across the European Union (EU). The content of this article is based on data from a population and housing census conducted in 2011, rather than regional demography statistics (which have been the source of information traditionally used in the Eurostat regional yearbook)
The census is a very detailed source of data and includes information for some variables down to the level of municipalities; for the purpose of this article the data has been aggregated in order to be able to present data at NUTS level 2 or level 3 so as to provide coherent information in the form of maps across the whole of the EU.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
This article, based on data from a population and housing census conducted in 2011, looks at a range of demographic issues, focusing on: the movement of individuals both into and within the EU; single-person households; and the formation of different types of family units.
Setting the scene: demographic developments in the EU
Demographic changes are one of the main drivers that shape the lives of Europeans. There were 507 million persons usually resident in the EU-28 in 2014. This equated to just over 7 % of the world total, compared with a share that was almost twice as high some five decades earlier.
The structure and profile of the EU’s population has changed considerably, due in part to: lower fertility rates; changes in patterns of family formation; a desire for greater personal independence; shifts in the roles of men and women; higher levels of migration; greater geographic mobility; and increases in life expectancy.
These demographic changes have resulted in the characteristics of families changing and have given rise to: a decline in the average size of households; different forms of living arrangements (consensual unions or registered partnerships); and record numbers of people living alone. As a result, there are considerable differences in the way that we live today compared with say 50 years ago and it is likely that significant changes will continue to take place in the coming decades, for example as the EU’s population grows progressively older.
Indeed, the pace of population growth in the EU-28 is expected to slow further, such that within the next 30–40 years the total number of persons usually resident in the EU-28 is projected to stagnate and may start to decline.
Increased mobility has contributed to a higher number of migrants in recent decades (inter-regional migration, intra-EU migration and migration from non-member countries into the EU). Some migrants move in order to improve their living standards (for example, for improved employment opportunities), while others may be driven from their homes, for example to escape conflict and / or oppression.
Within the population and housing census, citizenship is defined as ’a particular legal bond between an individual and his / her State, acquired by birth or naturalisation, whether by declaration, option, marriage or other means according to the national legislation’. A person with two or more citizenships shall be allocated to only one citizenship, to be determined in the following order of precedence:
- reporting country; or
- if the person does not have the citizenship of the reporting country: other EU Member State; or
- if the person does not have the citizenship of another EU Member State: a non-member country.
For more information, see: Commission Regulation
Immigration is one of the most contentious issues in the EU: while some regions are characterised as having built vibrant, diversified communities, others face important challenges linked to improving migrant integration; note that while there are some regional aspects to migrant integration, this issue is generally dealt with at a national level.
Net migration (the number of immigrants minus the number of emigrants) has been the principal driver of EU population change since the 1990s. Migration from non-member countries is generally restricted (such as by quotas) or is subject to particular conditions (such as holding a job offer, certain levels of skills of qualifications, or having a place at an educational establishment). International migrants have the potential to increase economic output, filling unskilled posts or skilled ones where there is a lack of qualified labour, for example, in the health sector. Some EU Member States are characterised by higher levels of non-economic international migration, principally concerned with family reunification, study or humanitarian reasons.
When referring to foreign populations, an important distinction should be made between people who were born in a foreign country and those who are foreign citizens. The information that follows is based on the number of foreign citizens usually resident in the EU in 2011. Note that the statistics presented refer to the number of foreign citizens usually resident in the EU, not to the stock of migrants or to migratory flows that occur each year, and that foreign citizens are not necessarily migrants (as in some of the EU Member States a relatively high share of foreign citizens are native born).
There were almost 32 million foreign citizens living in the EU’s Member States
In 2011, there were almost 32 million foreign citizens in the EU’s Member States, as such, foreign citizens accounted for 6.3 % of the total population of the EU’s 28 Member States (Map 1). Approximately 60 % of the foreign citizens living in EU Member States were citizens of a non-member country (in other words, from outside of the EU), while the remainder were citizens of other EU Member States.
SPOTLIGHT ON THE REGIONS
Several regions in the Baltic Member States recorded relatively high shares of residents who were citizens of non-member countries. This was particularly true in the Estonian region of Kirde-Eesti and the Latvian capital region of Rīga. In 2011, just over a quarter (25.6 %) of the resident population in Rīga was composed of citizens of a non-member country.
©: Alexander Tolstykh / Shutterstock.com
The largest populations of foreign citizens were recorded in Germany (6.1 million), Spain and the United Kingdom (which both had just over 5 million foreign citizens), Italy (4 million) and France (3.8 million). Belgium (1.2 million foreign citizens) was the only other EU Member State to have more than a million foreign citizens.
In relative terms, the largest shares of foreign citizens in the population of the EU Member States were recorded in Luxembourg (42.7 %), Cyprus (20.2 %), Latvia (16.5 %), Estonia (14.8 %), Ireland (11.8 %), Spain (11.2 %), Austria (11.1 %) and Belgium (10.5 %); none of the remaining Member States recorded double-digit shares. By contrast, at the other end of the range, foreign citizens accounted for less than 1 % of the total population in Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
Almost half of the population in north-eastern Estonia was composed of foreign citizens, principally from non-member countries …
Map 1 reveals, for NUTS level 3 regions, the distribution of foreign citizens as a share of the total population; the proportion of foreign citizens was generally higher in the west of the EU compared with the east.
Within individual EU Member States there were often specific pockets where foreign citizens accounted for a higher proportion of the population. Indeed, this was true in the region with the highest proportion of foreign citizens, Kirde-Eesti, in the north-eastern corner of Estonia, where foreign citizens accounted for almost half (46.0 %) of the total number of persons usually resident. The share of foreign citizens in Kirde-Eesti was more than three times as high as the national average, with almost all (99.2 %) of these with citizenship of non-member countries, principally Russia (Figure 1).
… while the vast majority of the foreigners living in Luxembourg were citizens of other EU Member States
Luxembourg (a single region at this level of analysis) had the second highest proportion of foreign citizens within its population (42.7 %). However, their origin was completely different, as citizens from other EU Member States accounted for 87.6 % of all foreigners living in the Grand-Duchy.
There were four EU regions where the share of foreign citizens in the total population was within the range of 30–40 %, namely: the French overseas region of Guyane (where the foreign citizens were almost exclusively from non-member countries); the West and South of Northern Ireland (where the foreign citizens were almost exclusively from other EU Member States); the Belgian capital of Arrondissement De Bruxelles-Capitale / Arrondissement Van Brussel-Hoofdstad (where a majority of the foreign citizens were from other EU Member States); and Fuerteventura (one of the Canary islands, where a small majority of the foreign citizens were from non-member countries). There were three more such regions in Switzerland — Genève, Basel-Stadt and Vaud (a canton in the extreme west of the country, with Lausanne as its capital) — each of them shared an EU border and a majority of their foreign citizens were from EU Member States.
Foreign citizens accounted for a relatively high share of the population in some of Europe’s largest cities
Outside of the Belgian capital region (see above), there were seven NUTS level 3 regions shown in the darkest shade in Map 1 which had in excess of one million persons usually resident and where foreign citizens accounted for 20–30 % of the population. Three of these were located in and around London (Inner London - West; Inner London - East; Outer London - West and North West); one was on the outskirts of Paris (Seine-Saint-Denis); one was the Austrian capital region of Wien; while there was also a single region from each of Germany (München) and Spain (Alicante). In Alicante and in all three London regions, a small majority of the foreign citizens were from other EU Member States. By contrast, just over four out of every five (81.4 %) foreigners living in Seine-Saint-Denis were from non-member countries; a majority of the foreign citizens living in Wien (64.6 %) and München (59.8 %) were also citizens of non-member countries.
Persons whose usual residence changed during the year prior to the census
A job opportunity is just one of several reasons why people may decide to move. They may wish to relocate in order to move closer to family or friends, or they might be looking for a change in lifestyle (for example, moving between the city and the countryside), or changes in their family situation (for example, a growing family, a divorce, or growing older) may dictate that they need to change location or the size or type of dwelling they live in.
Changes in usual residence
The population and housing census asks respondents about the relationship between their current place of usual residence and their place of usual residence one year prior to the census. This allows information to be gathered on population movements according to a range of criteria:
- persons whose usual residence remained unchanged (during the 12 months prior to the census);
- persons whose usual residence changed (during the 12 months prior to the census);
- having moved within the same EU Member State;
- within the same NUTS level 3 region;
- from a different NUTS level 3 region;
- having moved from outside the reporting Member State (no distinction is made as to whether these persons arrived from another EU Member State or from a non-member country).
- having moved within the same EU Member State;
For more information, see: Commission Regulation (EC)
Labour force mobility within the EU increased gradually up until the financial and economic crisis, largely driven by income and wage differentials (at first between southern and northern EU Member States and more recently between eastern and western EU Member States). The effects of the crisis initially resulted in a reduction in labour mobility (as employment opportunities dried up) and has for the last couple of years been increasingly driven by growing unemployment differentials (principally between members of the euro area).
Housing markets are likely to influence the degree of labour mobility, with the combination of high levels of home ownership and high transaction costs tending to ‘lock-in’ people, making it relatively expensive for them to change residence, whereas regions that are characterised by a higher proportion of rental accommodation and / or lower transaction costs are likely to have a more fluid housing market.
Country differences appear to be a major explanatory factor in explaining patterns of changes in residence
Some 6.4 % of the EU-28 population changed their usual residence during the course of the 12-month period prior to the census in 2011 (Map 2). One interesting feature of the map is that the differences observed are almost exclusively between EU Member States rather than between individual regions, suggesting that national labour and housing markets play a considerable role in determining the pace at which people move from one house to another.
The share of the population whose usual residence changed during the year prior to the census was particularly high in Slovakia and a number of cities in the United Kingdom. It was also relatively high in most of Belgium, Denmark, France, parts of the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Sweden and the remainder of the United Kingdom (other than Northern Ireland); this was also the case in Iceland and Norway.
Capital regions often recorded the most people changing address
In 2011, at least 16 % of the population in every one of the NUTS level 3 regions of Slovakia changed their usual residence (as shown by the darkest shade in Map 2). The most dynamic changes were recorded in the capital region of Bratislavský kraj (30.7 % of the population changed residence). The other NUTS level 3 regions with high shares were predominantly in the United Kingdom, with the highest share also recorded in the capital, as 21.5 % of the Inner London - West population changed residence in the year prior to the census in 2011.
Younger generations often live in and around cities, where there are more education and employment opportunities; this may explain why some cities have a higher proportion of their population changing address. Indeed, the remaining regions in the United Kingdom characterised by a high proportion of people changing their residence were all centred on cities, namely: Nottingham, Brighton and Hove, Southampton, Edinburgh, Bristol, Inner London - East, Portsmouth, York, Cardiff (and the Vale of Glamorgan), Liverpool, Bournemouth and Poole.
Outside of Slovakia and the United Kingdom, there were only three regions where at least 16 % of the population changed residence in the 12-month period prior to the last census. Each of these was a capital region, namely, the Belgian capital of Arrondissement de Bruxelles-Capitale / Arrondissement van Brussel-Hoofdstad, the Danish capital of Byen København and the Norwegian capital of Oslo.
A majority of the people who changed their usual residence in the EU moved within the same region …
A more detailed analysis is provided in Figure 2, which shows the top 10 regions in terms of the highest proportion of persons moving to a particular region from within the same region or from another country (another EU Member State or a non-member country); note that the figure does not take account of the absolute number of people who actually moved.
On average, some 56.6 % of the EU-28 population who changed their usual residence during the course of the 12-month period prior to the census in 2011 moved within the same NUTS level 3 region. Just over one third (34.3 %) of those moving residence came from another region of the same Member State, while less than 1 in 10 (9.1 %) originated from another country.
… this pattern was particularly pronounced across a diverse range of Portuguese regions …
There were several Portuguese regions that reported very high shares of those changing residence doing so within the same NUTS level 3 region. This was the case for almost 9 out of every 10 persons (89.9 %) who changed residence in the autonomous island region of the Açores, while the share in Grande Porto was only marginally lower, at 87.0 %. Aside from this peripheral overseas island region and the metropolitan region of Porto, some largely rural Portuguese areas — such as Alto Alentejo and Alentejo Central — also recorded a high share of residents who had moved having done so within the same region.
The proportion of people having moved who had done so within the same region was also relatively high in two regions of Finland (the capital region of Helsinki-Uusimaa and Pohjois-Pohjanmaa) and in the north-eastern Hungarian region of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén.
… while new residents from another country systematically accounted for a minority of those who changed their residence
By contrast, the bottom part of Figure 2 shows those regions with the highest proportion of new residents originating from another country; this share did not attain 50 % in any of the NUTS level 3 regions for which data are available.
These regions were characterised as being around the periphery of the EU. Five of the highest rates were recorded in Bulgaria, including the provincial region of Sofia (stolitsa) around the Bulgarian capital, where just over one third (34.9 %) of new residents came from another country, and two northerly regions (Vidin and Ruse) close to the border with Romania; note however that the overall proportion of the population who changed residence in Bulgaria was relatively low at approximately 2 %. Elsewhere, the proportion of new residents originating from another country was also relatively high in: two Spanish regions, the autonomous city of Melilla, which had the highest share (48.3 %) of new residents moving from another country, and Fuerteventura; two Latvian regions, the capital Rīga and Latgale, which is on the Russian border; and Drama, a region in the north of Greece which borders onto Bulgaria.
There have been considerable changes in the household composition and living arrangements of Europeans: one of the most striking developments has been the increase in the number of people who live alone. This pattern is partly driven by choice (people seeking some independence), but also results from a higher number of divorces and separations, and from the increasing longevity of the population (particularly among women) which may lead to the elderly population being widowed and living alone in their final years.
Defining household status
Within the population and housing census, household status is based on what is referred to as the ‘housekeeping concept’, whereby each private household is either:
- a single-person household, someone living alone in a separate housing unit or who occupies, as a lodger, a separate room (or rooms) of a housing unit but does not join with any of the other occupants of the housing unit to form part of a multiperson household (as defined below); or
- a multiperson household, that is a group of two or more persons who combine to occupy the whole or part of a housing unit and to provide themselves with food and possibly other essentials for living (members of the group may pool their incomes to a greater or lesser extent).
A non-family household can be a single-person household (someone living alone) or a multiperson household without any family nucleus (for example, a group of young workers or a group of students that share a house together).
For more information, see: Commission Regulation (EC) N°1201/2009
Almost one third of all households in the EU were composed of someone living alone
In 2011, single persons accounted for almost one third (31.4 %) of all the households in the EU-28. Figure 3 shows the regional disparities in the proportion of single-person households across NUTS level 2 regions.
Typically, a higher proportion of the population in capital regions were living alone
In 2011, all but one of the multi-region EU Member States recorded a share of one-person households in their capital region that was above the national average. This was particularly true in Berlin and the Région de Bruxelles-Capitale / Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, where almost half of all households were composed of single persons. There were also relatively high shares in Wien, Noord-Holland (which includes Amsterdam), Helsinki-Uusimaa and Hovedstaden (which includes Copenhagen), as single-person households accounted for 40–45 % of all households. Sometimes the difference between the proportion of single-person households in the capital region and the remaining regions of the same Member State was so great that the capital was the only region where the share of one-person households was above the national average; this was the case in Denmark, Austria and Slovakia, as well as in Norway. The Irish capital region of Southern and Eastern was atypical insofar as it was the only capital region to record a proportion of single-person households that was lower than the national average.
Persons who are widowed or divorced
One subset of people living alone is those who have been widowed or divorced and have not remarried / re-entered a registered partnership. In 2011, some 12.9 % of the EU-28 population was living with this status (Map 3). A closer analysis reveals that 7.0 % of the EU-28’s population was widowed (and not remarried or in a registered partnership), while 5.9 % of the population was divorced (and not remarried or in a registered partnership).
High proportion of widowed and divorced people in the Baltic Member States and Hungary
Map 3 shows that widowed / divorced people who had not remarried / entered into another form of partnership accounted for a relatively high share of the population in central and southern France and Portugal, a band of regions running from eastern Germany, through the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, into parts of Romania and Bulgaria, as well as most regions in Finland and several (often less densely populated) regions in Sweden and the United Kingdom. However, the highest shares of widowed / divorced people who had not remarried / entered into another form of partnership were recorded in the Baltic Member States and Hungary, where those with this status accounted for approximately one in five of the population.
Looking in more detail, the NUTS level 3 region with the highest proportion of widowed / divorced people who had not remarried / entered into another form of partnership was the north-eastern Estonian region of Kirde-Eesti; it was the only region where upwards of one in four persons lived with this status. The vast majority of the 26 other regions in the EU where at least 20 % of the population was widowed / divorced and had not remarried / entered into another form of partnership were located in either the Baltic Member States or Hungary, although this group of regions also contained the Bulgarian region of Vidin, the Czech region of Karlovarský kraj and the German region of Pirmasens, Kreisfreie Stadt.
Malta, Ireland and southern Italy had very low divorce rates
By contrast, there was generally a low proportion of the population who were widowed / divorced and had not remarried / entered into another form of partnership in many southern EU regions, as well as in Ireland and Poland. These relatively low shares may, at least in part, reflect traditional religious practices, social pressures, past legal restrictions and the role of the family, and the impact that these may have on the divorce rate. For example, 0.5 % of the population was divorced (and had not remarried) in Malta, while this share was lower than 5 % in Ireland, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania, Poland and Spain.
The lowest proportions of widowed / divorced people who had not remarried / entered into another form of partnership were recorded across Ireland and Malta, as well as some parts of southern Italy and the French overseas regions. Guyane (2.9 %) has the lowest share among NUTS level 3 regions, while three Irish regions (including the capital of Dublin) and both of the Maltese regions reported that 5–6 % of their population was composed of widowed / divorced people who had not remarried / entered into another form of partnership. In Italy, the regions with the lowest shares (below 8 %) included Bari, Barletta-Andria-Trani and Foggia in Puglia, Caserta and Napoli in Campania, and Crotone in Calabria.
It is interesting to note that despite a high proportion (upwards of 40 %) of the population living alone in the capital regions of Groot Amsterdam, Byen København and Arrondissement de Bruxelles-Capitale / Arrondissement van Brussel-Hoofdstad, none of these capitals were characterised by a particularly high share of widowed / divorced people who had not remarried / entered into another form of partnership. This would suggest that a relatively high proportion of younger persons were living alone in the Belgian, Danish and Dutch capitals, perhaps reflecting the education and employment opportunities available in each of these cities.
This section provides information on the structure of different types of family unit. Marriage remains the most popular family unit, although the number of divorces in the EU has increased rapidly and the average age at which people tend to get married has risen, as a rising share of young people begin their adult lives by living alone or cohabiting, rather than leaving the parental home when they are ready to marry. Although marriage remains a common institution, fewer people live in the traditional ‘nuclear family’ (composed of a husband and wife with children), as registered partnerships, consensual unions and lone parent families account for an increasing proportion of families.
Lone parent families
In 2011, there were 15.5 million lone parent families with at least one resident child under 25; this equated to 11.0 % of all families in the EU-28. Many of the EU’s capital cities and other major conurbations were characterised by a relatively high proportion of lone parent families.
SPOTLIGHT ON THE REGIONS
Pinhal Interior Sul, Portugal
Some 11.0 % of all family units with children under the age of 25 still living at home were composed of lone parents. The lowest share of lone parents was recorded in the inland, central Portuguese region of Pinhal Interior Sul, where lone parent families accounted for 4.2 % of the total number of families with children.
©: Egitaniense / Wikimedia Commons
One in four lone parent families in Romania were lone father families
Less than 1 in 10 (8.8 %) lone parent families with at least one resident child under 25 in Estonia were families composed of a lone father; this was the lowest share among the EU Member States. A relatively low proportion (less than 12 %) of lone parent families in Cyprus, Ireland and Poland were composed of lone fathers.
By contrast, lone father families with at least one resident child under 25 accounted for one in four (25.3 %) lone parent families in Romania, the highest share in the EU. In Bulgaria, Spain, Finland and Sweden, the share of lone father families was also relatively high.
Lone parent families accounted for more than one in five families in Latvia
In 2011, the highest share of lone parent families were recorded in the Baltic Member States, with 16.1 % and 16.8 % of all families in Estonia and Lithuania being composed of lone parents, a share that rose to 21.9 % in Latvia. The next highest shares of lone parent families were recorded in Slovenia and the United Kingdom, where just less than 15 % of all families were composed of lone mothers or fathers.
By contrast, lone parents with at least one resident child under 25 accounted for less than 7 % of all families in Cyprus and Greece and for a relatively low share of families (less than 10 %) in three other southern EU Member States, namely, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The share of lone parent families was also less than 10 % in the eastern Member States of Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania, as well as in neighbouring Germany and the Netherlands.
Some of the highest shares of lone parent families were located in and around major conurbations …
There were some quite wide differences within the EU Member States with respect to the shares of lone parent families recorded in each NUTS level 3 region. In 2011, the highest proportions of lone parent families with at least one registered child under 25 were recorded in all of the Latvian regions, the four French overseas regions, as well as some urban regions in the United Kingdom (the highest shares being recorded in Belfast, Inner London - East, Liverpool, Glasgow City, Nottingham and Birmingham). The share of lone parent families was also at least 18 % (as shown by the darkest shade in Map 4) in the Lithuanian capital of Vilniaus apskritis and four Belgian regions, the capital region of the Arrondissement de Bruxelles-Capitale / Arrondissement van Brussel-Hoofdstad and three regions in Wallonia, namely, Mons, Charleroi and Liège.
… while the lowest share were generally recorded in rural and sparsely populated regions
By contrast, lone parent families accounted for a relatively low proportion of all families in each of the Greek regions; the highest share was recorded in the capital region of Attiki, at 8.1 %. Indeed, a majority of the regions in the EU where lone parent families accounted for less than 6 % of all families (as shown by the lightest shade in Map 4) were Greek. They were joined by two regions from southern Bulgaria (Kardzhali and Smolyan), a single German region (Eichstätt in Bavaria), two regions from Italy (Agrigento in Sicily and Barletta-Andria-Trani in Puglia), a single region from the east of the Netherlands (Achterhoek), and four relatively remote and sparsely populated regions from northern / central Portugal (Alto Trás-os-Montes, Pinhal Interior Sul, Serra da Estrela and Beira Interior Norte).
A family nucleus is defined, for the purpose of the population and housing census, as two or more persons who belong to the same household and who are related as husband and wife, as partners in a registered partnership, as partners in a consensual union, or as parent and child.
For the purpose of this article, families are therefore defined as comprising:
- couples without children;
- couples with one or more children; and
- lone parents with one or more children.
As such, the concept of the family is restricted insofar as it includes only direct (first-degree) relationships between parents and children.
A child is defined as a blood, step- or adopted son or daughter (regardless of age) who has usual residence in the household of at least one of the parents, and who has no partner or own children in the same household. For the purpose of the census, a child who alternates between two households (for example, if his / her parents are divorced) shall consider the one where he / she spends the majority of their time as his / her ‘usual household’. A son or daughter who lives with a spouse, with a registered partner, with a partner in a consensual union, or with one or more of his / her own children, is not considered to be a child.
For more information, see: Commission Regulation (EC) N°1201/2009
Although marriage has become less prevalent in the EU, it remains a widespread institution. In 2011, some 71.2 % of all families in the EU-28 were composed of married couples. In other words, registered partnerships, consensual unions and lone parent families accounted for just over one quarter (28.8 %) of all family nucleii.
Marriage remained a common institution in many Mediterranean regions
Map 5 shows how common marriage was across NUTS level 3 regions. The highest shares of married couples in the total number of families were often recorded in those regions where lone parent families were relatively uncommon. The darkest shade in the map shows those regions where at least four out of every five families were composed of married persons (with or without children). These regions were spread across a number of Mediterranean regions including Cyprus, all of the Greek regions (except for the capital of Attiki), most of coastal Croatia and southern Italy, the Maltese islands of Gozo and Comino, and Jaén in southern Spain. Married couples also accounted for at least 80 % of all families in several inland regions of northern /central Portugal, several relatively rural regions in Germany, much of Bulgaria and Romania, and the southern Polish region of Rybnicki.
In contrast there were five regions in the EU-28 where fewer than half of all families were composed of married couples. Three of these were French overseas territories: Guyane, on the Atlantic coast of South America recorded by far the lowest share, at 27.8 %. The other two regions where married couples accounted for fewer than half of all families were both located in the United Kingdom, namely, Inner London - East (46.8 %) and Glasgow City (49.4 %). Otherwise, marriage was also quite uncommon in relation to other types of family formation in the Baltic Member States and the northern half of Sweden, and this was also true, to a lesser extent, across much of Finland, southern Sweden, several regions in Denmark, the Netherlands and (southern) Belgium, most of France and the United Kingdom, as well as a cluster of regions in Slovenia, southern Austria and Hungary.
The term couple is defined, for the purpose of the population and housing census, to include:
- married couples;
- couples in registered partnerships;
- couples who live in a consensual union.
As such, a couple is constituted when two persons (of either sex) choose to live together as a married couple, in a registered partnership, or in a consensual union (the latter refers to the situation when two persons belong to the same household, and have a ‘marriage-like’ relationship with each other, and are not married to or in a registered partnership with each other).
Many EU Member States have legislated to provide legal recognition of partnerships, civil unions and same-sex marriages. Note that the data presented refer to the situation as of 2011 and that there may have been legislative changes in some EU Member States since this date resulting in a wider range of legally recognised partnerships for couples.
For more information, see: Commission Regulation (EC) N°1201/2009
Figure 4 provides a more restricted analysis, based on those people living as couples, a narrower concept than that of the family (as it excludes lone parents). It shows those regions where the three types of couple — married, registered partnerships and consensual unions — accounted for the highest proportion of all couples; note that the data presented do not take account of the relative importance of couples in the total population.
A relatively high proportion of couples in the Nordic and Baltic Member States chose to live in a consensual union
The highest proportions of couples living in consensual union were generally located in the Baltic and Nordic Member States. In 2011, upwards of one third of all couples in several Estonian and Swedish regions, as well as the Danish capital of Byen København, lived in a consensual union. This was also the case in the Spanish island region of Fuerteventura and the French overseas territory of Guyane, which was the only NUTS level 3 region to report that a majority of its couples, some 55.4 %, were living in a consensual union.
The highest proportion of registered partnerships was recorded in Belgian regions, all of which were in Wallonia. Belgian registered partnerships (cohabitation légale / wettelijke samenwoning) may be formed by same-sex couples, different-sex couples, as well as persons who chose to live together outside of a sexual relationship (for example, relatives). Three regions in the Ardennes — Marche-en-Famenne, Neufchâteau and Dinant — recorded the highest shares of registered partnerships, at just over 8 %.
The relative importance of marriage as an institution reflects, to some degree, the alternative possibilities for couples to join together in other forms of partnership, as well as cultural differences. An overwhelming majority of couples in many Greek and Polish regions were married, with the share of married couples rising to over 99 % in three south-eastern Polish regions of Krośnieński, Nowosądecki and Tarnowski.
Couples with children
Figure 5 provides an analysis of married couples and registered partnerships with at least one resident child under the age of 25. The two parts of the figure show the regional disparities for these population subgroups in relation to their share of the total number of families.
Marriage remained the most common type of family unit for raising children
In 2011, married couples with at least one child accounted for 33.2 % of all families in the EU-28, this was more than five times as high as the share for couples living in a consensual union with at least one child (5.6 % of all families).
Although there has been an increase in the proportion of children born out of wedlock, marriage remains the most common form of family unit for raising children. In 2011, married couples with at least one resident child accounted for more than 40 % of all families in Poland, Luxembourg, Croatia, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus (where the highest share was reported, 45.5 %). By contrast, couples living in consensual unions with at least one resident child accounted for more than 10 % of all families in France, Sweden and Estonia, as well as in Iceland and Norway. In Estonia, married couples with at least one child accounted for 1.7 times as many families as couples living in a consensual union with at least one child, this ratio was also relatively low in Sweden, France, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Finland, Latvia and Denmark. By contrast, in Greece, married couples with at least one child accounted for more than 100 times as many families as couples living in a consensual union with at least one child; while this ratio was just over 30 in Cyprus and Malta.
It is apparent from Figure 5 that there was a mixed pattern with respect to bringing up children in capital regions. In the capital regions of those EU Member States where marriage remained a relatively common institution (for example, Italy and Portugal), the share of married couples with at least one resident child was close to or below the national average. By contrast, among the capital regions of those EU Member States where marriage is a relatively less common institution (such as France or Sweden), in the capital city the proportion of married couples with at least one resident child was above the national average.
Data sources and availability
Population and housing censuses have generally been conducted once every decade in the EU Member States. The information presented here is based on the data produced by Member States for the 2011 EU census data collection; no comparisons have been made with the results from previous census exercises.
In its broadest sense, a population and housing census is intended to provide a count of the entire population and housing stock of a given area. It is also used to collect information on the main characteristics of individuals, families, households and the dwellings in which they live, in other words a range of geographic, demographic, social and economic information. Traditionally, a census was undertaken as a door-to-door enumeration of persons at each dwelling. However, in recent decades, many EU Member States have been moving away from a single data census collection, towards census statistics based on administrative data sources and sample surveys.
A census provides an opportunity to obtain a comprehensive and accurate picture of the population and the housing stock. It is a considerable undertaking, which provides a unique source of data that is of great value for policy development, as comparable data are collected for small areas (municipalities) that may be aggregated up through regions, to national and international aggregates. Indeed, the results of a population and housing census are unique insofar as they provide detailed information down to the level of individual municipalities, while also providing a means to produce cross-tabulations of different variables.
Much of the information presented is based on the concept of ‘usual residence’, which refers to the place where a person normally spends their daily period of rest, regardless of temporary absences for purposes of recreation, holidays, visits to friends and relatives, business, medical treatment or religious pilgrimage. People are considered to be ‘usually resident’ in a region if they have lived there for a continuous period of at least 12 months before the reference period for the population and housing census, or if they arrived during the 12-month period prior to the census and they indicate that they intend to stay for at least one year.
Note: the EU-28 aggregates shown in this article have been constructed from national totals available from the population and housing census. As such they do not reflect a specific reference date, but are rather based on the reference period adopted for the census in each EU Member State.
The census hub — online access to almost one billion data points
The population and housing census required extensive planning and close cooperation between Eurostat and the national statistical authorities, designed to facilitate the widest possible use of these statistics as a key resource for European social statistics. With this in mind, Eurostat developed the census hub, an online application which provides access to data from the census exercises that were undertaken in 32 European states.
The census hub provides an opportunity for people to learn more about the place where they live, be that at a national or regional level or for a specific town or municipality.
The census hub is a single entry point to access population and housing census data stored in each EU Member State and EFTA country. The interface allows users to define data extractions to meet their own needs, specifying their own cross-tabulations to be produced from the detailed datasets held by each national statistical authority. Anyone can use the census hub free-of-charge via the internet; it is an easy to use, versatile tool providing access to almost one billion data points across 125 000 different municipalities.
Eurostat will release a publication based on an extensive selection of data from the population and housing census; this is due to be published in the second half of 2015.
The census hub is available at: https://ec.europa.eu/CensusHub2
For the 2011 exercise, European legislation defined a detailed set of harmonised data to be collected in each EU Member State, based on international guidelines and recommendations prepared by the United Nations, Eurostat and each national statistical authority.
European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 763/2008 on population and housing censuses outlines the topics to be collected, the transmission procedures to be used and the quality assessments to be undertaken for the census. However, it is concerned with output harmonisation, rather than input harmonisation and each EU Member State was free to assess for themselves how to conduct their census and to determine which data sources, methods and technology were best in their own individual context. By contrast, certain conditions had to be met to achieve the objective of comparable data and these were detailed in a set of implementing regulations. European Commission Regulation (EC) No 1201/2009 contains definitions and technical specifications for the census topics (variables) and breakdowns (for example, classifications of location, sex, marital status and occupation) that were required, European Commission Regulation (EU) No 519/2010 provides details of the data output to be used to transmit data to the European Commission in order to comply with a defined programme of statistical data (tabulations), while European Commission Regulation (EU) No 1151/2010 legislates for the transmission of a quality report containing a systematic description of the data sources used and the quality of the census results produced. More information on the legal basis for the census is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/population-and-housing-census/legislation.
Regional demographic statistics
Although not shown in this edition of the Eurostat regional yearbook, 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. This data may be used for a wide range of planning, monitoring and evaluating actions across a number of important socioeconomic policy areas, 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 immigration and asylum systems.
The legal basis for the collection of population statistics is provided by European Parliament and Council Regulation (EU) No 1260/2013 on European demographic statistics and by an implementing Regulation (EU) No 205/2014. European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 862/2007 legislates for the collection of Community statistics on migration and international protection, together with implementing Regulation (EU) No 351/2010. For more information, refer to the dedicated section on Eurostat’s website.
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.
Demographic changes in the EU are likely be of considerable importance in the coming decades as the vast majority of models concerning future population trends suggest that the EU’s population will continue to age, due to consistently low fertility levels and extended longevity.
Although migration plays an important role in the population dynamics of EU Member States, it is unlikely that migration alone will reverse the ongoing trend of population ageing experienced in many parts of the EU.
The social and economic consequences associated with population ageing are likely to have profound implications across Europe, 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 population, and 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.
Those regions projected to face the greatest demographic challenges include peripheral, rural and post-industrial regions, where the population is likely to decline. The territorial dimension of demographic change is seen most notably through:
- an east–west effect, whereby many of the Member States that have joined the EU since 2004 are still playing catch-up;
- a north–south effect, whereby there are often considerable differences between Mediterranean regions and more temperate regions in the north and west of the EU;
- an urban–rural split, with the majority of urban regions continuing to report population growth, while the number of persons usually resident in many rural areas is declining;
- a capital region effect, as capitals and some of their surrounding regions (for example, around the EU’s two global metropolises of Paris and London) display a ‘pull effect’ associated with increased employment opportunities;
- several examples of regional disparities at a national level, which have the potential to impact on regional competitiveness and cohesion, for example, in Germany and Turkey (between those regions in the east and the west), or in France, Italy and the United Kingdom (between regions in the north and those in the south).
Concerned by future demographic developments, it is unsurprising that policymakers have addressed a range of issues. The European Commission adopted a Communication (COM(2006) 571), titled ‘The demographic future of Europe — from challenge to opportunity’ which highlighted five key policy responses:
- promoting demographic renewal through better conditions for families and an improvement in the reconciliation of working and family life;
- promoting employment, through more jobs and longer working lives of better quality;
- a more productive and dynamic EU, raising productivity and economic performance through investing in education and research;
- receiving and integrating migrants in the EU;
- ensuring sustainable public finances to guarantee adequate pensions, social security, health and long-term care.
Furthermore, most of the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy also touch upon demographic challenges, and in particular demographic ageing. The innovation union flagship initiative provides an opportunity to bring together public and private actors at various territorial levels to tackle a variety 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. Another flagship initiative, the digital agenda, promotes digital literacy and accessibility for older members of society, while an EU agenda for new skills and jobs supports longer working lives through lifelong learning and the promotion of healthy and active ageing. Finally, the European platform against poverty and social exclusion addresses the adequacy and sustainability of social protection and pension systems and the need to ensure adequate income support in old age and access to healthcare systems.
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 from across the Mediterranean, as well as providing a range of policy options for the longer-term management of migration into the EU. The agenda recognises that there is a need to respond to humanitarian challenges, but seeks to increase the number of returns among irregular migrants, while providing for the continued right to seek asylum.
The agenda sets our four levels of action for EU 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.
- Population and population change statistics
- Population statistics introduced
- Population structure and ageing
Further Eurostat information
- Eurostat regional yearbook 2014 — Chapter 1
- Eurostat regional yearbook 2013 — Chapter 2
- Eurostat regional yearbook 2012 — Chapter 2
- Eurostat regional yearbook 2011 — Chapter 1
- Regional population projections EUROPOP2008: Most EU regions face older population profile in 2030 — Statistics in Focus 1/2010
- Regional demographic statistics (t_reg_dem)
- Population (t_demo_pop), see:
- Crude rates of population change by NUTS 2 regions (tgs00099)
- Annual average population (1 000) by NUTS 2 regions (tgs00001)
- Population density by NUTS 2 regions (tgs00024)
- Total and land area by NUTS 2 regions (tgs00002)
- Population at 1 January by NUTS 2 regions (tgs00096)
- Census 2011 round (cens_11r)
- Regional demographic statistics (reg_dem)
- Population and area (reg_dempoar)
- Fertility (reg_demfer)
- Mortality (reg_demmor)
- Census: Regional level census 2001 round (reg_demcens)
- Population (demo_pop), see:
- Regional data (demopreg)
Methodology / Metadata
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)