E.g., 08/02/2014
E.g., 08/02/2014

Europe: Population and Migration in 2005

Adjust Font    |    Print    |    RSS    |    Reprint Permission

Europe: Population and Migration in 2005

After having been primarily countries of emigration for more than two centuries, many parts of Europe gradually became destinations for international migrants in the last 50 years.

As a result, the number of European countries with a positive migration balance — meaning more people have entered than left the country — has grown over the last decades. In many cases, the size of net migration determines whether a country still has population growth or is entering a stage of population decline.

According to 2005 data, all countries of Western Europe (the European Union's first 15 members (EU-15), Norway, and Switzerland) have a positive migration balance, as do six of the 10 new EU Member States — Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Slovenia, and Slovakia. It is very likely that, sooner or later, this will also be the case in the rest of Europe.

Origin of the Data

This article is based on the analysis of demographic data published by Eurostat, the European Union's statistical agency.

Eurostat collects its data from national sources in the 25 EU Member States, two accession countries (Bulgaria and Romania) and three candidate countries (Croatia, Macedonia, and Turkey). Eurostat does not correct or comment on national-level data.

The EU-15 includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The EU-25 includes the EU-15 plus 10 Member States that joined in 2004: Cyprus (Greek part only), the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Preparing to join the EU in 2007 are Bulgaria and Romania. Croatia and Turkey began accession negotiations in October 2005. Macedonia became an EU candidate country in December 2005.

The EEA includes the EU-25 plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway; Switzerland is an associated country.

Population Numbers

In early 2006, the total population of Western and Central Europe, the Balkans, and Turkey was 594 million. The European Union (EU-25) had 462 million inhabitants, 389 million (84 percent) of which were either citizens or foreign residents of the EU-15. The other 73 million were citizens or foreign residents of the 10 new EU Member States.

Outside the EU-25, 29.3 million people were living in the accession countries of Bulgaria and Romania. Turkey, which started official accession discussions with the EU last year, had a population of 72.5 million. Together, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland accounted for another 12 million people in Western Europe. In the western Balkans, there were 17 million people in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro (including Kosovo).

Natural Population Change

Demographic stagnation best describes Europe's native populations. Between 2000 and 2004, the annual natural population change (births minus deaths) in the EU-15 was as low as +0.1 percent. Most new EU Member States in Central Europe and several countries in Southern Europe experienced natural population decline.

In the EU-25, natural growth amounted to +0.07 percent. As a result, Europe's population increase of more than 2.0 million people between January 2005 and January 2006 was mainly driven by immigration (see Table 1).

Table 1. Demographic Indicators in Europe, 2005
  Pop. January 2005 (in thousands) Births per 1,000 population Deaths per 1,000 population Nat. pop. decrease/increase Net migration Total pop. change Pop. January 2006 (in thousands)
EU-25 459,488 10.5 9.7 0.7 3.7 4.4 461,507
Germany 82,501 8.4 10.1 -1.7 1.2 -0.5 82,456
France 60,561 12.6 8.8 3.7 1.7 5.4 60,892
UK 60,035 11.9 9.9 2.0 3.3 5.3 60,354
Italy 58,462 9.9 10.4 -0.5 5.8 5.3 58,772
Spain 43,038 10.9 8.8 2.1 15.0 17.1 43,781
Poland 38,174 9.4 9.7 -0.3 -0.3 -0.7 38,148
Netherlands 16,306 11.6 8.4 3.1 -1.2 2.0 16,338
Greece 11,076 9.4 9.2 0.2 3.1 3.3 11,112
Portugal 10,529 10.5 9.7 0.8 3.9 4.7 10,579
Belgium 10,446 11.4 10.0 1.4 3.2 4.6 10,494
Czech Rep. 10,221 10.0 10.5 -0.5 3.5 2.9 10,251
Hungary 10,098 9.6 13.5 -3.9 1.8 -2.1 10,076
Sweden 9,011 10.4 9.9 0.5 2.7 3.2 9,040
Austria 8,207 9.4 9.0 0.4 7.4 7.8 8,270
Denmark 5,411 11.8 10.3 1.6 1.4 3.0 5,428
Slovakia 5,385 10.0 9.8 0.2 0.8 0.9 5,390
Finland 5,237 11.0 9.2 1.8 1.7 3.5 5,255
Ireland 4,109 15.3 6.5 8.8 11.4 20.2 4,193
Lithuania 3,425 8.9 12.9 -4.0 -3.0 -7.0 3,401
Latvia 2,306 9.3 14.2 -4.9 -0.5 -5.4 2,294
Slovenia 1,998 8.8 9.2 -0.5 3.6 3.1 2,004
Estonia 1,347 10.6 13.1 -2.5 -0.3 -2.8 1,343
Cyprus* 749 10.9 6.7 4.1 27.2 31.3 773
Luxembourg 455 11.5 7.6 3.9 3.4 7.3 458
Malta 403 9.9 7.2 2.7 5.0 7.8 406
Other EEA
Iceland 294 14.2 6.2 7.9 2.0 10.0 297
Liechtenstein 35 10.8 6.4 4.5 3.8 8.3 35
Norway 4,606 12.4 8.8 3.7 4.7 8.4 4,645
 EEA 464,423 10.5 9.7 0.7 3.7 4.4 466,484
Switzerland 7,415 9.6 8.3 1.3 4.7 6.0 7,460
Accession & candidate countries*** 105,472 16.0 8.3 7.6 -4.1 7.5 106,276
Croatia 4,444 9.4 11.1 -1.7 2.6 0.9 4,448
Bulgaria 7,761 9.0 14.6 -5.6 -1.8 -7.4 7,704
Romania 21,659 10.2 12.3 -2.1 -0.5 -2.5 21,604
Turkey** 71,609 18.9 6.2 12.6 -5.9 12.6 72,520

Notes:*Greek part of Cyprus only. **Data for Turkey on net migration are from 2003. ***Excluding Macedonia

Source: EUROSTAT, Chronos Database.

In 2005, Western and Central Europe still experienced a population increase. In the 28 countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, total population growth was +2.1 million. But nine of the 28 EU/EEA countries as well as both EU accession countries of the next enlargement round (Bulgaria and Romania) as well as candidate country Croatia had more deaths than births. The other 19 countries analyzed in Table 1 still experienced some natural population growth. Net migration was positive in 25 of the 30 analyzed countries. Due to the low number of births, the number of countries with declining domestic populations will increase.

Immigration-Driven Population Growth

During the 1990s and early 2000s, immigration to southern Europe — particularly Italy, Portugal, and Spain — as well as to Austria, Ireland, and the UK increased considerably. At the same time, the number of immigrants arriving in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands decreased. Some countries — including Croatia, Slovakia, and Slovenia — still had more emigration than immigration in the early 1990s but have become immigration countries over the last decade.

Several countries, in particular the Czech Republic, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, and Slovakia, only showed a population growth in 2005 because of immigration. In other countries, such as Germany and Hungary, recent population decline would have been much larger without a positive migration balance. The EU-25, in 2005, had an overall net migration rate of +3.7 per 1,000 inhabitants and a net gain from international migration of +1.8 million people. This accounts for almost 85 percent of Europe's total population growth in 2005.

Relative to population size, the Greek part of Cyprus had the largest positive migration balance (+27.2 per 1,000 inhabitants), followed by Spain (+15.0), Ireland (+11.4), Austria (+7.4), Italy (+5.8), Malta (+5.0), Switzerland (+4.7), Norway (4.7), and Portugal (+3.8). In contrast, Lithuania (-3.0 per 1,000 inhabitants), the Netherlands (-1.8), Latvia (-0.5), Poland (-0.3), Estonia (-0.3), Romania (-0.5), and Bulgaria (-1.8) had a negative migration balance.

Net migration in absolute numbers in 2005 was largest in Spain (+652,000) and Italy (+338,000), followed by the UK (+196,000), France (+103,000), Germany (+99,000), Portugal (+64,000), Austria (+61,000), and Ireland (+47,000). Among the new EU Member States and accession countries in Central Europe, the Czech Republic experienced the largest net migration gain (+36,000). But Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia also had a positive migration balance, as did EU candidate country Croatia.

Foreign-Born Population

In most of today's EU and EEA countries, the number and share of the foreign-born population has increased. Since the early 1990s, the largest increases occurred in Spain. Relative to population size, increases have also been considerable in Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, and Luxembourg.

Of the 474 million citizens and legal foreign residents of the EU/EEA and Switzerland, some 42 million were born outside their European country of residence. In absolute terms, Germany had by far the largest foreign-born population (10.1 million), followed by France (6.4 million), the UK (5.8 million), Spain (4.8 million), Italy (2.5 million), Switzerland (1.7 million), and the Netherlands (1.6 million).

Relative to population size, two of Europe's smallest countries — Luxembourg (37.4 percent) and Liechtenstein (33.9 percent) — had the largest stock of immigrants, followed by Switzerland (22.9 percent), the Baltic states of Latvia (19.5 percent) and Estonia (15.4 percent), Austria (15.1 percent), Ireland (14.1 percent), Cyprus (13.9 percent), Sweden (12.4 percent), and Germany (12.3 percent).

It is worth noting, however, that the majority of the foreign-born populations in Estonia and Latvia are of ethnic Russian origin. These Russians had settled as internal migrants during the Soviet era and only "became" international migrants when the former Soviet Union broke up. Indeed, the size of Latvia and Estonia's foreign-born populations decreased in the 1990s as ethnic Russians returned to Russia.

In the majority of Western European countries, the foreign-born population accounted for between seven and 15 percent of the total population. In most of the new EU Member States in Central Europe (with the exception of the Baltic States and Slovenia) the share of foreign born was still below five percent (see Table 2).

Table 2. Foreign-Born Populations in Europe (EU/EEA + Switzerland), 2005
Country Size of foreign-born population, 2005 (in thousands) Foreign-born as share of total population, 2005 (in percent) Share of foreign-born with citizenship of country of residence, 2000-04 (in percent)*
EU-25
Austria 1,234 15.1 41
Belgium 719 6.9 41
Cyprus** 116 13.9  
Czech Republic 453 4.4 80
Denmark 388 7.2 40
Estonia 202 15.2  
Finland 156 3.0 42
France 6,471 10.7 53
Germany 10,144 12.3 46
Greece 974 8.8 42
Hungary 316 3.1 71
Ireland 585 14.1 45
Italy 2,519 4.3  
Latvia 449 19.5  
Lithuania 165 4.8  
Luxembourg 177 37.4 13
Malta 11 2.7 65
Netherlands 1,638 10.1  
Poland 703 1.8 96
Portugal 764 7.3 66
Slovakia 124 2.3 84
Slovenia 167 8.5  
Spain 4,790 8.5 31
Sweden 1,117 12.4 63
UK 5,408 9.1  
Subtotal 39,790 8.6  
Other EEA + Switzerland
Iceland 23 7.3  
Liechtenstein 12 33.9  
Norway 334 7.4 48
Switzerland 1,660 22.9 29
Total 41,829 8.9  

Note:*Latest available year (2000-2004). **Greek part of Cyprus only.

Source: OECD Database, UN Migration Database (2005)

Conclusion

Europe's demographic situation is characterized by growing life expectancy and declining birth rates. This leads to a situation in which more and more countries are experiencing a decrease in the size of their native populations.

In contrast to earlier historical periods, most countries of Europe now see more immigrants entering than emigrants leaving. As a result, the EU as a whole and most Member States report population growth mainly driven by net gains from migration.