Krakow, Poland – According to EU projections, Poland and Slovakia could experience some of the biggest demographic drops in Europe and lose more than one quarter of their current population in the coming decades.
According to figures released a few days ago by Eurostat, the total population of the European Union could drop from 512 million in 2018 to 493 million in 2100, after reaching a peak of 524 million around 2040.
The demographic trends of EU countries, however, widely differ from one region to another. More than one third of EU member states, mostly located in Western Europe, should see their population rise by 2100: Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, France, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, Austria, Sweden and the U.K.
Poland and Slovakia’s population to shrink by over a quarter
The population of Central and Eastern European countries, on the contrary, are expected to shrink significantly. Poland, the most populous country in Central Europe, is a text-book example of demographic decline, combining low birth rates, strict immigration policies and strong emigration drive among younger generations.
Overall, Poland might lose more than a quarter (28% exactly) of its population by 2100, falling from 38 million in 2018 to 27.5 million in 2100, according to EU projections.
Slovakia, where the population is expected to shrink from its current level of 5.4 million to 3.9 million by the end of the century, will experience a similar 28% drop.
As seen on the two graphs (above for Poland, below for Slovakia), the demographic structure of Polish and Slovak society will be dramatically modified, with a large increase of their over 70 population – and everything it entails, from additional strain on public health services and pension systems to lack of workforce in the economy.
Visegrad countries population expected to drop by 23% by 2100
Poland and Slovakia are no isolated cases in Central Europe. Hungary‘s population might drop by 19% during that same period (from 9.8 to 7.9 million in 2100). The population of the Czech Republic, meanwhile, is only expected to shrink by 8% by the end of the century (9.8 million in 2100, compared to 10.6 million today).
Meaning that, according to EU projections, the total population of Central Europe could decrease from 64 to 49 million people by 2100 (or -15 million people in 80 years, the rough equivalent of the combined population of Hungary and Slovakia).
Predictions from the U.N. are even more alarmist, and expect a drop of over 30% of Central Europe’s population by the end of the century.
Eastern and Southern Europe facing significant population decline
Apart from Visegrad Group countries, the rest of the CEE region is also facing a dramatic threat from the decline of its population, including Bulgaria (from 7 to 4 million in 2100), Romania (19.5 to 13.4 million), Lithuania (2.8 to 1.6 million) and Croatia (4.1 to 2.3 million).
Southern Europe is also extremely vulnerable to an ageing population, as exemplified by the cases of Portugal (10.3 to 6.6 million by 2100), Italy (60.5 to 44.5 million) and Greece (10.7 to 7.5 million).