EU-ASEAN cooperation - key population statistics

Data extracted in March and April 2017.

No update planned for this article.

In 2015, the EU population was 509 million and 630 million in the ASEAN countries.
Life expectancy at birth, 1977 and 2014
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec) and the World Bank (Health Nutrition and Population Statistics)

This article is part of a set of statistical articles based on Eurostat’s publication 40 Years of EU–ASEAN Cooperation — Key statistics. It provides a selection of statistics on the European Union (EU) and its Member States in comparison with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its Member States and covers key indicators concerning the size of the population, life expectancy, the population age structure and the degree of urbanisation.

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Population key data

In 2015, the EU-28’s population was 509 million compared with 630 million in ASEAN. Between 1977 (when the EU and ASEAN first established formal relations) and 2015, the population of ASEAN grew by 89 %, whereas that of the EU-28 grew by 11 %; the population of ASEAN surpassed that of the EU-28 in 1995 and by 2015 was 24 % larger.

Table 1: Key data on population, 1977 and 2015
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind), (demo_r_d3area) and (demo_r_d3dens) and the World Bank (World Development Indicators)

As the population of ASEAN grew in recent decades, so did its population density, from 77 inhabitants per km² in 1977 to 146 inhabitants per km² by 2015. The EU-28 reported a population density of 109 inhabitants per km² in 1977 compared with an average of 117 inhabitants per km² in 2015, the latter being just over double the global average. Singapore from ASEAN and Malta from the EU recorded by far the highest population densities in 2015, with this ratio peaking at 7.8 thousand inhabitants per km² in Singapore, while the ratio in Malta was 1.4 thousand inhabitants per km². The least densely populated ASEAN Member State was Lao PDR, while the least densely populated EU Member State was Finland.

Worldwide, life expectancy at birth in 2014 was 71.5 years. All of the EU Member States and half of the ASEAN Member States reported life expectancy that was above this global average, with Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar reporting life expectancies in the range of 68.9 to 65.9 years. Compared with 1977, unsurprisingly life expectancy was higher in 2014 in all EU Member States and all ASEAN Member States, with the increases ranging from four years in Bulgaria and Lithuania to 18 years in Lao PDR and Estonia and 49 years in Cambodia; the particularly low value for 1977 for Cambodia reflects the fact that this first reference period was during the Cambodian genocide.

Figure 1: Life expectancy at birth, 1977 and 2014
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec) and the World Bank (Health Nutrition and Population Statistics)

Figure 2 compares the age structure, in 2015, of the world, the EU-28 and ASEAN. The peak in the population structure of the world in the age group 25–29 reflects to a large extent a peak in this age group in China, while there is no equivalent peak in this age group in the EU-28 or ASEAN.

The age structure for ASEAN is a quite regular ‘bell’ shape, displaying a particularly broad base in the youngest age group (possibly reflecting a combination of high fertility and infant mortality rates), and a rapid narrowing starting at the age group 25–29, synonymous with a rapidly expanding population and relatively low life expectancy.

The age structure for the EU-28 is quite different: there is a much higher share of older persons reflecting higher life expectancy and the impact of the ‘baby-boomer’ cohorts on the population structure; the share of the age groups below those aged 45–49 years gets progressively smaller approaching the youngest cohorts, reflecting falling fertility rates over several decades. Another difference is the somewhat greater gender imbalance (than is typical for the world as a whole) within the EU-28 among older age groups, where women tend to live longer.

Figure 2: Age pyramids, 2015
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat (demo_pjangroup) and the World Bank (Health Nutrition and Population Statistics)

The age dependency ratio (young and old) shown in Figure 3 summarises the relative importance of younger persons (aged less than 15 years) and older persons (aged 65 years and over) with respect to the working-age population (those aged 15–64 years).

Despite different age structures, the overall dependency ratios for the EU-28 and ASEAN are quite similar, 53 % for the EU-28 and 48 % for ASEAN. Despite a low old-age dependency ratio, the overall ratio for ASEAN is pulled up by a high young-age dependency ratio, whereas the reverse is true in the EU-28.

Among the EU Member States, the range in the overall dependency ratio was relatively small, 17 percentage points between Slovakia (with the lowest rate) and France (with the highest), whereas among ASEAN Member States it was greater, 25 percentage points between Singapore and Lao PDR; while Singapore recorded the lowest overall dependency ratio among ASEAN Member States, it nevertheless recorded the highest old-age dependency ratio.

In all ASEAN Member States the young-age dependency ratio was higher than the old-age ratio, whereas in the EU Member States the reverse was true, with the exceptions of Ireland, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Slovakia and France.

Figure 3: Dependency ratios, 2015
Source: Eurostat (demo_pjanind) and the World Bank (Health Nutrition and Population Statistics)

Births and deaths

Natural population change is the difference between the number of live births and the number of deaths; it is one component of overall population change, the other being the net effect of migration (see the article on EU–ASEAN migration).

The crude birth rate in the EU-28 fell from 14.3 births per 1 000 inhabitants in 1977 to 10.1 per 1 000 inhabitants in 2014 (a change of -29 %), reflecting a fall in fertility rates in nearly all EU Member States, particularly in Portugal, Spain and Ireland. Among the ASEAN Member States, birth rates fell even more rapidly: the smallest decreases were in the Philippines (-37 %) and Lao PDR (-38 %), while in Myanmar (-52 %) and Brunei Darussalam (-55 %) the crude birth rate more than halved and in Thailand it fell by nearly two thirds (-63 %). Again this reflected falling fertility rates, most notably in Vietnam where the rate fell from an average of 5.6 births per woman in 1977 to 2.0 births per woman in 2014.

Figure 4: Crude birth rate, 1977 and 2014
(per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind) and the World Bank (Health Nutrition and Population Statistics)

Like the birth rate, the crude death rate in the EU-28 also fell between 1977 and 2014, from 10.4 to 9.7 per 1 000 inhabitants (a change of -7 %). However, this fall in death rates was not uniform, as 11 EU Member States reported higher crude death rates in 2014 than they had in 1997, most notably Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, Croatia, Greece, Latvia and Poland. By contrast, all of the ASEAN countries reported a decrease in their crude death rates except for Thailand where rates were already quite low in 1977. The particularly high crude death rate for Cambodia in 1977 is again largely explained by the genocide.

Figure 5: Crude death rate, 1977 and 2014
(per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind) and the World Bank (Health Nutrition and Population Statistics)

One particular factor in lowering overall crude death rates in many countries has been a falling infant mortality rate. In the EU-28 this ratio fell from 18.2 deaths per 1 000 live births in 1977 to 3.6 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2015 (a change of -80 %). A fall in infant mortality rates during this period was observed in all EU Member States, with rates at least halving. Among the ASEAN Member States, this rate also declined by at least 50 %, except in Brunei Darussalam (data for 1982 to 2015). In 2015, the infant mortality rate in Singapore (2.1 per 1 000 live births) was below the EU-28 average, while in Malaysia (6.0 per 1 000 live births) it was below the rates in Bulgaria (6.6 per 1 000 live births) and Romania (7.6 per 1 000 live births), which had the highest values among the EU Member States. Higher infant mortality rates in 2015 were observed elsewhere among the ASEAN Member States, peaking at 50.7 per 1 000 live births in Lao PDR.

Figure 6: Infant mortality rate, 1977 and 2015
(per 1 000 live births)
Source: Eurostat (demo_minfind) and the World Bank (World Development Indicators)


Four of the 30 largest urban agglomerations in the world in 2015 were in the EU or ASEAN, according to the United Nations’ World Urbanisation Report. The largest of these was the Philippines capital, Manila, which had a population close to 13 million. The French, Indonesian and British capitals also figured in the list, with between 10 and 11 million inhabitants each. For comparison, Tokyo in Japan is the largest urban agglomeration with around 38 million inhabitants. It should be noted that there is no globally accepted standard for distinguishing urban from rural areas, nor for delimiting the boundaries of urban agglomerations. For example, definitions and boundaries may be based on the availability of certain infrastructure, nationally-specific administrative boundaries, overall levels of population and/or levels of population density.

Table 2: Largest urban agglomerations in EU-28 and ASEAN members, 1975–2025
(million inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (demo_minfind) and the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (World Urbanisation Prospects)

The United Nations’ World Urbanisation Report provides data at five year intervals for the share of the population living in urban areas. The focus of Figure 7 is on the change in this share between 1975 and 2015; at a global level this rose from 38 % to 54 %, a rise of 16 percentage points.

Increases of at least 20 percentage points in the share of the urban population were recorded for the Netherlands, Portugal and Cyprus within the EU and for Malaysia, Indonesia, Lao PDR and Thailand within ASEAN. By contrast, 17 EU Member States reported an increase of 10 percentage points or less (while there was no change in Estonia), as did Myanmar and the Philippines among the ASEAN Member States; the share in Singapore did not change as the whole country is considered to be urban.

Apart from Singapore, the highest shares of the population in urban regions were reported in the Benelux Member States and Malta, all 90 % or higher. By contrast, just half of the population lived in urban regions in Slovenia, the lowest share among the EU Member States, with shares below half in the Philippines and Lao PDR, around one third in Myanmar and Vietnam, and close to one fifth in Cambodia.

Figure 7: Share of urban population, 1975 and 2015
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat (demo_minfind) and the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (World Urbanisation Prospects)

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

The indicators presented are often compiled according to international — sometimes global — standards. Although most data are based on international concepts and definitions there may be certain discrepancies in the methods used to compile the data.

Most of the indicators presented for the EU and its Member States have been drawn from Eurobase, Eurostat’s online database. In exceptional cases some indicators for the EU have been extracted from international sources.

For ASEAN and its Member States, the data presented have been extracted from a range of international sources, namely the World Bank and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

For many of the indicators, multiple international statistical sources are available, each with their own policies and practices concerning data management (for example, concerning data validation, the correction of errors, the estimation of missing data, and the frequency of updating). In general, attempts have been made to use only one source for each indicator in order to provide a comparable analysis between the EU Member States or between the ASEAN Member States.


As a population grows or contracts, its structure changes. In many developed economies the population’s age structure has become considerably older as post-war ‘baby-boom’ generations reach retirement age, while in many developing countries the age structure is dominated by large numbers of young people. Many countries have experienced a general increase in life expectancy combined with a fall in fertility, in many cases to a level below that necessary to keep the size of the population constant in the absence of migration.

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Population change – Demographic balance and crude rates at national level (demo_gind)
Population (demo_pop)
Population on 1 January by age group and sex (demo_pjangroup)
Regional data (demopreg)
Area by NUTS 3 region (demo_r_d3area)
Population density by NUTS 3 region (demo_r_d3dens)
Infant mortality rates (demo_minfind)
Life expectancy by age and sex (demo_mlexpec)