31 October 2009

The Demographic Future of Europe?

The EU faces challenges in its demographic future. Most concerns centre around two related issues; an ageing population, and overall population decline.

The 2006 birth rate is 10 births per 1000 population, while the death rate is 10.1 deaths per 1000 people, making 2006 the first time in modern (non war) history where more people have died in Europe than were born. [11] The total fertility rate is an internationally low 1.47 children born per female, [11] where fertility rates above 2 per female are generally needed to maintain the current population. These figures mean the population of the EU is expected to decrease, while also suggesting the average age of European society will grow ever higher. _Wikipedia_EU_DEmographics
A century ago, Europe was home to 25% of the world's population. While the population of the continent has grown, it hasn't come close to the pace of Asia or Africa. As it stands now, around 12% of the world's people live on this continent, but if demographic trends keep their pace, Europe's share may fall to around 7% in 2050. _Demography_of_Europe_Wikipedia
For a far more in depth look at population trends in Europe, I suggest this post from Demography Matters blog. The author of the blog post, Edward Hugh, takes a detailed look at Thomas Subotka's ppt presentation "Fertility Trends in Europe". Using Subotka's data, Hugh arrives at somewhat different, more pessimistic conclusions than Subotka.

The following Wikipedia table looks at a breakdown of births in France, by geographic origin of birth mother. It addresses the question of how to account for recent increases in birth rates within France.
Average number of children in France

(1991-1998)
Average number of children in country of origin

(1990-1999)
All women living in metropolitan France 1.74
Women born in Metropolitan France 1.70
Immigrant women 2.16
Women born in overseas France 1.86
Immigrant women (country of birth)
Spain 1.52 1.23
Italy 1.60 1.24
Portugal 1.96 1.49
Other EU 1.66 1.44
Turkey 3.21 1.92
Other Europe 1.68 1.41
Algeria 2.57 3.64
Morocco 2.97 3.28
Tunisia 2.90 2.73
Other Africa 2.86 5.89
Asia (Mostly China) 1.77 2.85
The Americas and Oceania 2.00 2.54
The data only goes to 1998, but it suggests that immigration is responsible for the lion's share of recent increased fertility within France. The same is true, of course, in the USA.

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