Recent Demographic Trends in the Developed Countries

The Demographic Situation of Europe and the Developed Countries Overseas: An Annual Report
By Jean-Paul Sardon, Glenn Robertson


The relative overall stability of the population of continental Europe is accounted for by population growth in western Europe alone, mainly from immigration. Central and eastern Europe and Russia have negative natural increase, with the balance of migration being positive only in Russia. This contrasts with the United States, where the natural increase rate and net migration are less unbalanced and substantially positive. Fertility trends and levels present quite contrasting pictures across the whole of the continent, with the total fertility rate ranging in 2002 from 1.10 children per woman in Ukraine to 1.97 in Ireland. Central and eastern Europe have the lowest fertility levels, and the most pronounced downward trend, notwithstanding clear recoveries in Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Armenia. There is an almost universal decrease in women’s completed fertility, which nevertheless remains close to replacement level in the United States and New Zealand. This reduction in completed fertility is accompanied by an increase in permanent infertility. The marriage rate is continuing to rise in most countries of western Europe, while in central and eastern Europe, the fall which followed the collapse of the old socialist orders now seems to have abated almost everywhere. The average duration of life continues to increase in almost all European countries. While female life expectancy at birth is among the highest in the world in some western European countries (Spain, Switzerland, France and Italy), it is still almost 2 years lower even there than that of Japanese women.

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