by The Overpopulation Project Team
Researchers at The Overpopulation Project are pleased to present new population projections out to 2100 for the countries of the European Union and for the EU as a whole, in a new working paper (that turned into a published paper in October 2019 – the editor). These projections differ from previous national and region-wide projections primarily in projecting a wider range of scenarios farther out into the future than has typically been done. We provide population projections under nine different fertility and migration scenarios for every country in the EU and Norway. Click on the links below to view projections for specific countries and to see how today’s policy choices may influence your country’s population numbers tomorrow. Our national and region wide population projections are designed to illuminate the policy choices facing the countries of the EU today, and include a discussion of the long-range demographic and environmental implications of those choices.
Among key results, we find that demographic policy changes have the potential to increase or decrease future populations across the EU by several hundred million people by 2100.
Across the EU, migration policy offers greater scope for influencing future population numbers than changes to family support policies, or changes to other fertility-related economic policies. Changing fertility does influence population size, and economic and social policy can influence fertility rates.
But in the context of relatively low-fertility regimes where policy changes’ impacts on fertility are often fairly small, changes to national immigration levels could have a much greater impact going forward.
In most cases, EU nations are well placed to stabilize or slowly reduce their populations–thus achieving one of the necessary conditions for creating ecologically sustainable societies. We can see this in many of the status quo scenarios modelling the continuation of recent migration trends and a slight convergence of fertility among the countries. These scenarios mostly show relatively stable populations throughout the 21st century for western Europe: often within 10% of current population figures (Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Austria) and if not, then within 20% of current numbers (France, Spain, Denmark, Czech Republic). Some countries are on track for population decline (Portugal, Greece, and most Eastern European countries), and a few countries, like Sweden and the United Kingdom, are set for larger population increases this century (52% and 24% respectively) under the status quo fertility and migration scenarios. Such increases could be mitigated or avoided altogether by decreasing migration numbers or cutting fertility rates.
For example, cutting projected net migration to half the last 20 years average decreases the UK’s projected population growth between 2016 and 2100 from 24% to 3%—essentially stable.
Cutting migration further could lead to a moderately decreasing population, helping to achieve greenhouse gas reductions and other goals essential to ecological sustainability. In contrast, reducing fertility rates by decreasing government programs that facilitate child-rearing, or cutting the economic safety net, likely would be less popular with the general public and would result in smaller decreases in UK population growth.
See the published paper for details regarding our projection methods, how the scenarios were chosen, and the implications for greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity conservation of different demographic trajectories.Download Appendix I and II for complete projections for all countries in the EU, and for the detailed projection parameters. We welcome your comments on this work in progress!