Bulgaria’s population continued its decline in 2018, dropping to just over 7mn people — 7,000,039 as of December 31, 2018 — a fall of 49,995 people from a year earlier, data from the National Statistical Institute (NSI) showed.
Bulgaria is forecast to experience one of the world’s sharpest population declines during the rest of this century, according to long-term UN projections. Along with other eastern EU member states, the country is already experiencing skills shortages, due to the natural decline of the population and high emigration, mainly to fellow EU countries.
The NSI reported 62,197 live births in 2018, down by 1,758 compared to 2017, while the number of deaths was 108,526, also down, by 1,265.
As of December 31, 2018, Bulgaria’s working age population numbered 4.2mn people, or 60.0% of the total population. The working age population decreased by almost 48,000 compared to the previous year.
The data also revealed continued ageing of the Bulgarian population. At the end of last year the people aged 65 and over made up 21.3% of the country’s population, up by 0.3 percentage points compared to a year earlier.
This is above the EU average of EU-28 is 19.7%; Bulgaria is among eight EU member states where the share of the elderly among the population is above 20.0%.
In terms of migration, Bulgaria experienced net emigration of around 4,000 people, and almost half of the 33,225 people who changed their address in Bulgaria for an address abroad were aged 20 to 39 years.
The preferred destination countries for emigrating Bulgarians were are Germany (24.4%), the UK (17.8%) and Italy (7.5%). Of the 29,559 persons migrated to Bulgaria, the largest share were from Turkey (29.9%), Russia (11.0%) and Germany (7.2%).
The population decline was evident across the country. The lowest decline was in the Sofia (stolitsa) (-1.9%) and Sliven (-3.6%) districts, where numbers were down by 1.9% and 3.6% respectively. At the other end of the scale, the sharpest population decrease was in the Vidin district (16.4%), followed by Montana (14.0% and Kyustendil (13.4%.