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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Europe's Latest Population Data

No really remakable news, the general tendency seems to continue to be in this recent report from Eurostat. Of course the highlights are the alarming deterioration in the Accession Countries, and the fact that Spain now accounts for 23% of European immigration and Italy - despite Bossi - for 21%.

According to the first demographic estimates for 2003, published1 today by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, the EU had a population of 380.8 million on 1 January 20042. The population of the euro zone3 is estimated at 306.9 million, and that of the 10 Acceding Countries4 at 74.1 million.

In the EU the population grew by 3.4 per 1000 inhabitants in 2003, due to natural population growth and net migration of +0.8‰ and +2.6‰ respectively. On the other hand, and despite net migration (+0.4‰), the population fell by 0.8‰ in the Acceding Countries, due to a negative natural growth of 1.2‰.

The natural population growth in the EU (live births minus deaths) is expected to decrease from +309 000 in 2002 to +294 000 in 2003, and net migration should be also down, from +1 260 000 in 2002 to +983 000 in 2003. In total, the EU population is estimated to have increased by 1 276 000 in 2003. This is in line with the past few years, but still modest compared with growth in the 1950s and 1960s.

Births and deaths up in the EU, but natural increase down

Live births in the EU are likely to have been 4.03 million, about 1.1% higher than the post-war low observed in 2002. The highest birth rates were recorded in Ireland (15.5 live births per 1000 inhabitants), France (12.7‰), the Netherlands (12.6‰) and Denmark (12.0‰). Germany (8.6‰), Greece (9.3‰), Italy (9.4‰) and Austria (9.5‰) registered the lowest rates. In the Acceding Countries, the highest birth rate was found in Cyprus (11.1‰, the only rate above the EU average of 10.6‰), and the lowest in Slovenia (8.6‰).

Net migration is responsible for over three quarters of the population increase

For 2003 it is expected that the effects of population ageing might start to outweigh the decrease in mortality rates in the EU, with 3.74 million deaths, about 64 000 more than in 2002. The highest mortality rates in 2003 were registered in Denmark (10.7 deaths per 1000 inhabitants), Germany and Sweden (both 10.4‰). Ireland (7.3‰), with its relatively young population, is the Member State with the lowest rate, followed by Luxembourg (8.5‰). In the Acceding Countries, the highest death rate was found in Latvia (14.1‰), and the lowest in Cyprus (7.8‰).

Consequently, the highest natural growth of the population was in Ireland (+8.3 per 1000 inhabitants), well ahead of the Netherlands (+3.8‰) and France (+3.5‰). Three Member States recorded a negative natural growth: Germany (-1.8‰), Italy (-0.8‰) and Greece (-0.1‰). In the Acceding Countries, there was a natural increase only in Cyprus (+3.3‰) and Malta (+1.8‰). The largest decreases were observed in Latvia (-5.2‰) and Hungary (-3.9‰). In Slovakia there was no change due to natural growth.

In 2003, more than three quarters of the increase in the EU's population came from cross-border migration. Spain accounted for 23% of all the net migration to Member States, Italy 21%, Germany 16% and the United Kingdom 10%.

In relative terms, the largest net migratory flows were to Ireland, Portugal and Spain, with +7.0 per 1000 inhabitants, +6.1‰ and +5.5‰ respectively. The Netherlands (+0.2‰) and France (+1.0‰) had the lowest migration rates. Without net inward migration, Germany, Italy and Greece would have seen a decline in their populations.

In 2003, four Acceding Countries recorded more emigration than immigration, in particular Lithuania (-1.4‰), whilst the highest net migration rates were observed in Cyprus (+14.1‰) and Malta (+3.9‰).

EU population growth in 2003: between +0.1‰ in Germany and +15.3‰ in Ireland

In summary, whereas the populations of all the Member States increased in 2003, the changes were notably different. The largest increases were in Ireland (+15.3‰), Spain (+7.2‰) and Portugal (+6.9‰), and the smallest in Germany (+0.1‰), Denmark and Greece (+2.6‰ each).

Half of the 10 Acceding Countries, in particular Latvia (-5.6‰) and Lithuania (-4.5‰), had declining populations in 2003, whilst the biggest rises were in Cyprus (+17.4‰) and Malta (+5.7‰).

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