NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Europe's Approaching Population Dilemma

January 29, 1999

Noted demographer Ben Wattenberg has obtained from the United Nations Population Division some figures on total population prospects for the 11 European Union countries -- now being referred to as Euroland. They show what he calls an "incredibly low" fertility rate, with the prospects of a population loss within the next 10 years.

  • An average of only 1.38 children is being born to each Euroland woman in the course of her child-bearing years -- far below the 2.1 children necessary to maintain a stable population level.
  • The rate has been declining for more than 30 years.
  • The total fertility rate for Euroland is now 34 percent below the replacement rate.
  • The population projection for 2050, based on constant rates, is 240 million people -- 18 percent less than now.

By contrast, the American total fertility rate in 2000 is estimated at 1.93 children per woman -- which is 40 percent higher than in Euroland. Including the one million net immigrants we take in each year, our population should be 372 million by 2050.

Although the U.S. population is some 5 percent less than that of Euroland today, it should be 54 percent greater by the year 2050.

Euroland's population will age significantly over the years. Today, 22 percent of Eurolanders are over 60. By 2050, the proportion will be 38 percent.

Source: Ben Wattenberg, "Counting Change in Euroland," Washington Times, January 28, 1999.

 

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