This piece deals with the question of whether Europe is too crowded and what the demographic data can tell us about the state of European countries. We will talk about the birthrate, immigration, and the future of the peoples of Europe.
Population in Europe
At the time of writing, Europe’s population is estimated at around 741 million people. Compared to the world population of 7.6 billion, it means that Europe holds, roughly, 10% of the world’s population. The number is certainly larger than what it used to be in the 50s, but there was a slow-down in the 90s and 2000s and, currently, the population of Europe is declining on a yearly basis.
Websites and analytics like worldmeters.info estimate that, by 2050, over 80% of the population will reside in the urban areas, and the population will keep decreasing by the rate of 2% per year. This will bring the median age at 46, which is what is near what is currently the case with Japan, which suffers from the aging society.
Is There Overcrowding?
Nationalism is often praised as patriotism and criticized as xenophobia. There is nothing wrong with trying to preserve one’s national and cultural identity, but the issue of the diminishing population needs to be addressed, as the lack of young people will heavily influence the productivity and the economy. There will be more older people to support and fewer younger people to support them. So, while it may feel like there is overcrowding, there is actually shrinking. The feeling may come from the fact that more people are leaving rural areas in order to live in the cities.
The economic uncertainty of the modern era has led people to delay starting families, as they are often uncertain whether they can provide for them and would rather not take that chance. Immigration may be one of the keys to maintaining an average European country’s population in the positive.
For example, Germany, on its own, has been losing population. In fact, it has one of the lowest birthrates in entire Europe. However, the business and economic opportunities it provides make it a desirable location for immigrants, so the population of the country has actually increased.
Who is Growing and Who Isn’t?
Malta has the largest population growth in Europe, followed closely by Luxembourg and Sweden. Their increase is not only due to the impressive birthrate numbers, but the people from other countries that have decided to call them their home.
The lowest growth, or, rather, shrinkage, is found in Lithuania, followed by Croatia and Latvia. In fact, it is the Eastern European countries that are hit the hardest by the lack of a decent birth rate. Not only that, but many countries are losing population due to young people trying to find a more economically satisfying environment. The term is colloquially known as Brain Drain – educated and talented people who are unable to find employment in their own country move to another one.
The population in Europe is gradually shrinking with consequences that could be felt in the upcoming decades. The economic state is partially responsible for the lack of babies being born. One possible solution to the problem of the declining population could be immigration.