Sharp population declines reported in Baltic states, Southeast Europe

Sharp population declines reported in Baltic states, Southeast Europe
By Akin Nazli in Belgrade July 12, 2017

Lithuania reported the largest population contraction in the EU in 2016, with its population dropping by 1.42% y/y to 2.85mn during the year. 

The latest data from Eurostat showed that the steepest fall in population in the EU was concentrated in members in the Baltic states and Southeast Europe. Both regions have high net emigration. Their declining populations come against a modest 0.3% y/y in the EU’s total population to 511.8mn as of January 1, 2017. 

After Lithuania, neighbouring Latvia reported the second largest contraction, with its population dropping from 1.97mn on January 1, 2016, to 1.95mn a year later. 

Croatia’s population posted EU’s third highest annual decline of 0.87% y/y to 4.15mn as of January 01, 2017 from 4.19mn as of January 1, 2016 while Bulgaria’s population contracted by 0.73% y/y to 7.1mn from 7.15mn and Romania saw a 0.62% y/y decline in its population to 19.6mn from 19.8mn, the data published by Eurostat on July 10 showed.

SEE countries have been suffering from emigration especially after they joined the EU, although a similar trend was also reported in EU candidate country Serbia. Serbia also lost 0.51% y/y from its population to 7.04mn as of January 1. 

On the other hand, Macedonia and Montenegro managed to increase their population base last year. Macedonia saw a 0.12% y/y rise in its population to 2.07mn. Slovenia also expanded its population by 0.02% y/y to 2.07mn at the end of 2016 from 2.06mn in 2015, while Montenegro’s population rose by 0.03% y/y to 622,400.

Elsewhere in the bloc, Luxembourg posted the highest annual population increase of 1.98% y/y to 590,700. 

Germany remained as the largest country in the EU as of January 1 with a 16.2% share in overall population while Malta was the smallest with 0.1%. Bulgaria’s share in overall EU population stood at 1.4% while Croatia had 0.8% and Romania remained the largest SEE country with a 3.8% share.

Slovenia is one of the smallest countries in the EU with a 0.4% share in total population as of January 1.

A recent UN study showed that populations would drop in every East European country by the end of this century, with the region expected to experience the most dramatic declines in the world. 

Fifteen countries in Central and Eastern Europe are expected to see their populations contract by more than 30% by the end of the century. Moldova, which has already seen an exodus of its citizens to find work abroad, will lead the decline with its population forecast to drop by 51.8% by 2100. Bulgaria, Poland, Albania and Latvia are also forecast to lose more than 40% of their populations in the next 83 years.