NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Europe's Population to Fall

August 21, 2003

Fertility rates across Europe are now so low that the continent's population is likely to drop markedly over the next 50 years and affect its ability to compete and take care of pension obligations, say observers.

The size of Europe's population implosion is staggering:

  • The United Nations predicts that Europe's population will fall by 6 percent from 482 million to 454 million by 2007.
  • By 2050, the number of Italians may have fallen from 57.5 million to 45 million, while Spain's population will drop from 40 million to 37 million.
  • Germany's population could fall from 80 million to less than 25 million by the end of the century.
  • In Europe there are currently 35 people eligible for pensions for every 100 people of working age.
  • By 2050, there will be 75 pensioners for every 100 workers.

This will severely strain government finances in the future. Many countries, like Germany and Italy, are already paying nearly 30 percent of revenues on pensions.

A recent report from the French Institute of International Relations predicts that, by the middle of the century, the EU's Gross Domestic Product will be growing at just over 1 percent a year compared with more than 2 percent in North America and at least 2.5 percent in China. The EU, the report gloomily concludes, faces a "slow but inexorable 'exit from history' ".

Source: "Europe's Population Implosion," Economist, July 17th, 2003.

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