Experts anticipate that the EU-27 will face a population boom from now until 2035, where the number of people will reach 521 million, against the current 495 million. The figure is expected to drop to 506 million in 2060. The data was recently published in a Eurostat report outlining population projections for the period 2008-2060.
The report by the Statistical Office of the European Communities also showed that while the annual number of births is expected to decline over the next 52 years, the number of deaths should rise in the same period. Specifically, deaths will outnumber births from 2015 onwards. It should be noted that population growth will only result from positive net migration, and not from natural increase. Because positive net migration will fail to offset the negative natural change as of 2035, the population will start to shrink.
The biggest booms will be recorded in Cyprus (+66%), Ireland (+53%), Luxembourg (+52%), the UK (+25%) and Sweden (+18%), the report showed. The largest populations will be found in the UK (77 million), France (72 million), Germany (71 million), Italy (59 million) and Spain (52 million).
It should be noted that significant differences are expected to surface between the individual Member States. The countries expected to report the biggest losses are Bulgaria (-28%), Latvia (-26%), Lithuania (-24%), Romania (-21%) and Poland (-18%).
Concerning ageing, the EU-27 will face a population that is growing older, with the number jumping 12.9% to 30.0% from now until 2060. Octogenarians will represent 12.1% of the population in 2060 compared to the current rate of 4.4%. Key factors of the increase in the ageing populations are persistent low fertility and a stronger number of survivors to higher ages.
The data showed that the Member States facing the largest increase in populations aged 65 or more are: Poland (36.2%), Slovakia (36.1%), Romania (35.0%), Denmark (25.0%), the UK (24.7%) and Luxembourg (23.6%).
Meanwhile, the report said a rise is expected in the old age dependency ratio in the EU-27 (i.e. the population aged 65 years and older divided by the working age population); the figure should jump from 25% in 2008 to 53% in 2060. In a nutshell, only two people of working age for every person aged 65+ would exist, against the current number of four to one.
The report predicted that Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia will post old age dependency ratios of more than 60% versus Denmark, Ireland, Cyprus, Luxembourg, and the UK that are expected to report ratios of less than 45%.
It should be noted that Eurostat based its projections on 'what-if' scenarios targeting information about the future size and structure of the population.