Western society loses everything together

Population development: Eastern Europe is losing connection with the West

research results

While Western Europe continues to grow thanks to migration, the population in many countries in Eastern and Southeastern Europe is shrinking at an alarming rate. This is shown by the latest studies by demographers at the OeAW.

There are just a few hundred kilometers between strong population growth and alarming demographic decline in Europe: This is shown by the latest surveys by scientists from the Institute for Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Wittgenstein Center (ÖAW, IIASA, WU Vienna) ). In the new edition of the European Demographic Data Sheet, they illustrate the increasing gap in population growth between West and East since 1990, ranging from a growth of 36 percent in Ireland to a decline of 22 percent in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Austria's population is growing

Two factors in particular are decisive for this: the natural population development, which results from births and deaths, and migration, which includes emigration and immigration. Despite some differences between individual countries, relatively low fertility on the one hand and massive emigration on the other are causing the population of most countries in Eastern and Southeastern Europe to decline. Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo have recorded declines of over 20 percent since 1990. In Western Europe, on the other hand, it was primarily immigration that caused the population to grow significantly over the same period. This increase is particularly strong in Ireland, Switzerland, Norway and Spain, where the population has grown by more than a fifth compared to 1990. Austria also recorded a population growth of around 15 percent.

"Migration movements have now become the driving force behind the growth and decline of Europe's population," says ÖAW demographer Tomáš Sobotka, summarizing the results. Because while the fertility rate in Eastern Europe has not differed significantly from that of Western European countries in the recent past, it is the migration of people that divides the continent into two parts - and thus also determines the size of the population.

Europe continues to age

Incidentally, caution should be exercised when drawing direct conclusions from the population development on future social and economic scenarios. Because while the total population of the European Union has risen to over 500 million people and will continue to grow, this does not apply to the size of the working population: This is currently 246 million people, but according to the scientists' calculations it could be in stagnate or even fall in the coming decades. After all, a major demographic trend in East and West continues unabated, as Sobotka emphasizes: "Thanks to improvements in life expectancy across the continent, the European population will continue to age."

Additional Information: