Population and population change statistics


Data extracted in July 2020

Planned article update: July 2021

Highlights

On 1 January 2020, the population of the EU was estimated at 447.7 million inhabitants, 0.9 million more than the previous year.

Between 1960 and 2020, the population of the EU grew from 354.5 million to 447.7 million, an increase of 93.2 million people.

Population change by component (annual crude rates), EU-27, 1960-2019


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

Full article

EU-27 population continues to grow

The current demographic situation in the EU-27 is characterised by continuing population growth. While the population of the EU-27 as a whole increased during 2019, the population of nine EU Member States declined. The natural change of the EU population has been negative since 2012, with more deaths than births recorded in the EU (4.7 million deaths and 4.2 million births in 2019). The population change (positive, with 0.9 million more inhabitants) is therefore due to net migration.

On 1 January 2020 the population of the EU-27 was estimated at 447.7 million inhabitants, which was 0.9 million more than a year before. The increase in population numbers during 2019 was above that recorded during 2018 (0.7 million).

Over a longer period, the population of the EU-27 grew from 354.5 million in 1960 to 447.7 million in 2020, an increase of 93.2 million people (see Figure 1). The rate of population growth has slowed gradually in recent decades: for example, the EU-27’s population increased, on average, by about 0.9 million persons per year during the period 2005–20, compared with an average increase of around 3.0 million persons per year during the 1960s.

Figure 1: Population, EU-27, 1960-2020
(at 1 January, million persons)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)

In 2019, deaths continued to outnumber live births in the EU-27, resulting in the aforementioned negative natural change in the population. The increase in population recorded during 2019 for the EU-27 was therefore due to net migration and statistical adjustment; there were however variations in the patterns observed in the EU Member States as shown below. In 2019, net migration and statistical adjustment accounted for an increase of almost 1.4 million persons, more than in 2018 (1.2 million); since 1992, net migration and statistical adjustment has been the main determinant of population growth in the EU-27 (see Figure 2 for rates per 1 000 persons).

Figure 2: Population change by component (annual crude rates), EU-27, 1960-2019
(per 1 000 persons)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)

Net migration in the EU-27 increased considerably from the mid-1980s onwards, while the number of live births fell, and the number of deaths increased. The gap between live births and deaths in the EU-27 narrowed considerably from 1961 onwards (see Figure 3). The natural change of the EU population has been negative since 2012 when the number of deaths passed the number of births. Since the number of deaths is expected to further increase as the baby-boom generation continues to age, and assuming that the fertility rate remains at a relatively low level, negative natural population change (more deaths than births) could well continue. In this case, the EU-27’s overall population decline or growth is likely to depend largely on the contribution made by migration.

Figure 3: Births and deaths, EU-27, 1961-2019
(million)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)

Population change at a national level

The population of individual EU Member States on 1 January 2020 ranged from 0.5 million in Malta to 83.2 million in Germany. Germany, France, and Italy together comprised almost half (47 %) of the total EU-27 population on 1 January 2020 (see Table 1).

Table 1: Demographic balance, 2019
(thousands)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)

The population of the EU-27 increased during 2019 by 0.9 million people. Population growth was unevenly distributed across the EU Member States: a total of 18 Member States observed an increase in their respective populations, while the population fell in the remaining 9 Member States. Malta, Luxembourg, Cyprus, and Ireland recorded the highest population growth rates in 2019, with increases above 10.0 per 1 000 persons, five times the EU-27 average of 2.0 per 1 000 persons (see Table 2). Among these four EU Member States with the highest rates of population growth, the fastest expansion in population was recorded in Malta with an increase of 41.7 per 1 000 persons. The largest relative decreases in population were reported by Bulgaria (-7.0 per 1 000 persons), Latvia (-6.4 per 1 000 persons), Romania (-5.0 per 1 000 persons) and Croatia (-4.4 per 1 000 persons).

Table 2: Crude rates of population change, 2017-19
(per 1 000 persons)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)

Analysing the two components of population change in the national data, eight types of population change can be identified, distinguishing growth or decline and the relative weights of natural change and net migration — see Table 3 for the full typology. During 2019, the highest crude rate of natural increase of population was registered in Ireland (5.8 per 1 000 persons), followed by Cyprus (4.1) and Luxembourg (3.1). A total of 16 EU Member States had negative rates of natural change, with deaths outnumbering births the most in Bulgaria (-6.7 per 1 000 persons), Latvia (-4.7), Lithuania, Greece and Croatia (all -3.9), Hungary and Romania (both -3.8). In relative terms, Malta (40.4 per 1 000 persons), Luxembourg (16.6 ), Cyprus (9.6) and Spain (9.5) had the highest crude rates of net migration in 2019, while Latvia (-1.8 per 1 000 persons), Romania (-1.2), France (-0.8) and Croatia (-0.6) recorded the largest negative crude net migration rates.

Table 3: Contribution of natural change and net migration (and statistical adjustment) to population change, 2019
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)

Among the 18 EU Member States where the population increased in 2019, 10 recorded both a natural increase and positive net migration contributing to their population growth. In Czechia, Germany, Estonia, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia and Finland, the positive net migration was the sole driver of population growth, as natural population change was negative. The population growth in France was only due to positive natural change, while net migration was negative.

Of the 9 EU Member States that reported a reduction in their level of population during 2019, Greece, Italy, Hungary and Poland recorded a decline in the population solely due to negative natural change, while net migration was positive. In Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania the decrease in the level of population was mostly driven by negative natural change, supplemented by negative net migration.

Data sources

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

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

Context

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

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Population (demo_pop)
Regional data (demopreg)


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