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Demographic change and work in Europe


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Relevant features of demographic change in Europe

Demographic development is constituted by the interplay of three factors: fertility, mortality and migration. The first two are usually referred to as ‘natural’ factors.

Fertility

The most relevant indicator measuring fertility is the so-called ‘total fertility rate’ (TFR). This indicator is defined by Eurostat in the Demographic statistics section of its Concepts and Definitions Database (CODED) as:

The mean number of children that would be born alive to a woman during her lifetime if she were to pass through her childbearing years conforming to the fertility rates by age of a given year. This rate is therefore the completed fertility of a hypothetical generation, computed by adding the fertility rates by age for women in a given year.

The TFR is a standardised indicator that allows a comparison of fertility rates between different countries. It is also used to indicate the so-called ‘replacement level fertility’ (RLF), which is defined as the level of fertility at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next. In developed countries, the RLF can be taken as requiring an average of 2.1 children per woman.

The absolute number of children being born also depends on the size of cohorts of women of childbearing age. If there are many women in these cohorts, even a low TFR may result in a relatively high number of children being born, thus ‘hiding’ the long-term effects of a low TFR. Exactly this seems to have happened in Europe since the 1960s.

As shown in Table 1, the TFR was above the RLF of 2.1 in all EU27 countries (except Hungary) in the 1960s. This situation has changed radically with nine EU countries below the RLF in the 1970s, 22 countries below the RLF in the 1980s and all EU27 countries below the RLF since the mid-1990s. Only a handful of countries within the European Union report fertility rates anywhere near the replacement level in 2006, despite the small recovery in the TFR during latter years.

Table 1: Total fertility rates in the EU, 1960–2006
  1960–1964 1970–1974 1980–1984 1990–1994 1995–1999 2000–2004 2006
EU27 2.64 2.23 1.79 1.56 1.47 1.46 1.53
AT 2.78 2.08 1.61 1.49 1.39 1.38 1.40
BE 2.64 2.07 1.61 1.62 1.58   1.74
BG 2.23 2.16 2.01 1.57 1.18 1.24 1.37
CY 3.47 2.38 2.46 2.35 1.85 1.54 1.47
CZ 2.22 2.14 2.01 1.72 1.18 1.17 1.33
DE 2.64 1.77 1.48 1.32 1.33 1.35 1.32
DK 2.58 1.97 1.44 1.73 1.76 1.76 1.83
EE   2.13 2.12 1.67 1.33 1.39 1.55
EL 2.25 2.33 2.02 1.37 1.27 1.27 1.39
ES 2.86 2.87 1.94 1.30 1.17 1.27 1.38
FI 2.68 1.64 1.68 1.82 1.75 1.75 1.84
FR 2.83 2.36 1.88 1.72 1.80 1.90 2.00
HU 1.88 2.01 1.82 1.77 1.40 1.30 1.34
IE 3.91 3.84 2.92 1.99 1.89 1.93 1.90
IT 2.50 2.37 1.55 1.28 1.21 1.27 1.35
LT 2.57 2.28 2.04 1.86 1.49 1.29 1.31
LU 2.33 1.77 1.48 1.65 1.72 1.66 1.65
LV   2.01 2.01 1.70 1.18 1.24 1.35
MT 3.16 2.21 1.98 2.02     1.41
NL 3.17 2.15 1.52 1.59 1.58 1.73 1.70
PL 2.76 2.24 2.33 1.93 1.51 1.27 1.27
PT 3.16 2.71 2.05 1.53 1.46 1.46 1.35
RO 2.10 2.65 2.18 1.55 1.39 1.30 1.31
SE 2.30 1.90 1.64 2.04 1.57 1.64 1.85
SI 2.25 2.14 1.91 1.38 1.25 1.23 1.31
SK 2.93 2.50 2.29 1.94 1.42 1.22 1.24
UK 2.86 2.20 1.81 1.78 1.71 1.68 1.84

Source: European Commission, 2009

Within the EU there are roughly two groups of countries:

  • those with a moderately low fertility (in the range of 1.6–1.9 births per woman) including Belgium, France, Ireland, the Scandinavian countries and the UK;
  • those with very low fertility (in the range of 1.5 births or less) including the southern and eastern European countries of the EU as well as Austria and Germany and.

Despite the more than 40% decline in the TFR between the 1960s and 2006, the number of live births ‘only’ fell from 7.6 million in 1965 to 5.2 million in 2006, with the number of births increasing slightly during the last years of this period.

Mortality

The European Commission Demography report 2008: Meeting social needs in an ageing society (3.16MB PDF) points out that:

... one of the most impressive socio-economic achievements of developed societies has been the marked reduction in mortality or, in other words, the large increase in life expectancy. (p. 53)

Despite the fact that statistics do not cover all current Member States for the whole period of time, there is a consensus among experts that there has been a continuous (and, in historical terms, dramatic) increase in life expectancy in Europe since the 1950s which is still continuing (Table 2).

Table 2: Life expectancy in Europe, 1960–2007
  1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2007
AT   70.12 72.73 75.83 78.35 80.39
BE 69.72 71.00 73.27 76.17 77.86 79.89
BG 69.30 71.24 71.06 71.21 71.64 73.00
CY         77.73 80.03
CZ 70.66 69.59 70.39 71.47 75.13 77.02
DE 69.21 70.71 73.13 75.44 78.31 80.09
DK     74.18 74.90 76.87 78.40
EE       69.90 70.78 73.12
EL   73.84 75.28 77.07 78.01 79.42
ES     75.42 76.99 79.35 81.05
FI     73.70 75.06 77.76 79.57
FR         79.16  
HU 68.10 69.25 69.12 69.38 71.85 73.61
IE       74.80 76.58 79.75
IT       77.10 79.92  
LT   71.08 70.53 71.46 72.19 70.92
LU     72.84 75.66 78.04 79.52
LV           71.16
MT     70.40   78.37 79.93
NL       77.09 78.19 80.42
PL       70.71 73.83 75.36
PT 63.97 66.71 71.46 74.08 76.71 79.13
RO   68.15 69.20 69.86 71.18 73.24
SE   74.73 75.79 77.68 79.77 81.09
SI       73.93 76.15 78.42
SK 70.30 69.84 70.44 71.07 73.30 74.55
UK         77.98  

Source: Eurostat dataset ‘Life expectancy by sex and age’ (selection), 2009

Again, there are considerable differences between the 27 EU Member States (EU27), of which the most obvious is the remarkably lower life expectancy in the new Member States from Eastern Europe.

It is well-known that women have a longer life expectancy than men. In 2004 (the last time the data were available for all EU27 countries), women lived on average 6.3 years longer than men (81.5 vs. 75.2 years).

In the past, the reduction of live births was overcompensated by the fact that, on average, people lived longer. Therefore, the natural population change has been positive in the EU27 over the last decades, though not in all individual Member States. However, it is easy to see that this natural growth of the population cannot be sustainable because of the long-term effects of the reduced TFR.

Migration

Since the 1990s, migration has been the most important factor influencing the size of the population in the EU27 – much more than natural population growth. Whereas, in 2007, natural population growth in the EU27 accounted for a growth in the population of 483,538 people, net immigration led to a growth in the population of the EU27 of 2,101,579 people – that is more than four times greater than the natural population change. The Commission’s ‘Demography report 2008’ (p. 62) points out that ‘the EU has thus become a major destination for global migration flows, surpassing even the US.’

Migration from other EU27 countries as well as from third countries has resulted in a considerable number of non-nationals living in EU Member States. As shown in Table 3, these non-nationals are quite unevenly distributed among EU27 countries.

Table 3: EU27 population by citizenship, 1 January 2007
    Of which non-nationals As % of total population Acquisitions of citizenship in 2006
  Total population  Non-EU27 EU27 Non-EU27 EU27 Total As % of third-country nationals
AT 8,298,923 550,129 275,884 6.6 3.3 25,746 4.7
BE 10,584,534 300,816 631,345 2.8 6.0    
BG 7,679,290 21,690 3,800 0.3 0.0 6,738 31.1
CY 778,684 47,184 70,900 6.1 9.1    
CZ 10,287,189 186,370 109,866 1.8 1.1 2,346 1.3
DE 82,314,906 4,788,792 2,467,157 5.8 3.0 124,566 2.6
DK 5,447,084 196,877 81,219 3.6 1.5 7,961 4.0
EE 1,342,409 229,709 6,700 17.1 0.5 4,781 2.1
EL 11,171,740 729,840 157,700 6.5 1.4 1,962 0.3
ES 44,474,631 2,856,796 1,749,678 6.4 3.9 62,375 2.2
FI 5,276,955 79,277 42,462 1.5 0.8 4,433 5.6
FR 63,392,140 2,369,540 1,280,500 3.7 2.0 147,868 6.2
HU 10.066,158 66,827 101,046 0.7 1.0 6,101 9.1
IE 4,312,526 141,156 311,150 3.3 7.2 5,763 4.1
IT 59,131,287 2,332,734 606,188 4.0 1.0 35,266 1.4
LV 2,281,305 426,687 6,264 18.7 0.3 18,964 4.4
LT 3,384,879 37,354 2,333 1.1 0.1 467 1.3
LU 476,187 27,227 170,986 5.7 35.9 1,128 4.1
MT 407,810 4,610 9,261 1.1 2.3 474 10.3
NL 16,357,992 437,014 244,918 2.7 1.5 29,089 6.7
PL 38,125,479 30,955 23,928 0.1 0.1 989 3.2
PT 10,599,095 339,295 95,600 3.2 0.9 3,627 1.1
RO 21,565,119 20,095 5,974 0.1 0.0 29 0.1
SE 9,113,257 266,509 225,487 2.9 2.5 51,239 19.2
SI 2,010,377 50,549 3,006 2.5 0.1. 3,204 6.3
SK 5,393,637 12,912 19,218 0.2 0.4 1,125 8.7
UK 60,852,828 2,203,028 1,456,900 3.6 2.4 154,015 7.0

Source: European Commission, 2009

Future demographic scenario

In March 2008, Eurostat published population projections for 2008–2060 (EUROPOP2008) for EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland (Giannakouris, 2008). EUROPOP2008 is based on a mandate from the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) which uses it as the basis for calculating projections of public expenditure related to population ageing in the EU. Its projections offer an insight into the possible future population development in individual Member States, taking into account socioeconomic and cultural differences among them. The main finding of the projection is that ‘without the assumed net migration inflow, Europe’s population would start shrinking from 2012 onwards’ (European Commission, 2009, p. 70).

Figure 1: Population size of EU27 with and without immigration, 2008–2061

Population size of EU27 with and without immigration, 2008–2061

Source: European Commission, 2009


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Page last updated: 20 August, 2010
About this document
  • ID: EU0902019D
  • Author: Rainer Trinczek
  • Institution: FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg
  • Country: EU Level
  • Language: EN
  • Publication date: 16-12-2010
  • Subject: Ageing and work