Recent Demographic Trends in the Developed Countries
The relative overall stability of the population of continental Europe is accounted for by population growth in western Europe alone, mainly from immigration. Central Europe has negative natural increase, with net migration being positive only in Russia. This contrasts with the United States, where natural increase and net migration are substantially positive. The total fertility rate in the 15-member EU, driven chiefly by the older members, has risen slightly since 2002 and now stands at 1.55 children per woman, 0.5 children below the United States. Fertility trends and levels present quite contrasting pictures across the whole of the continent, with TFRs ranging from 1.20 in Belarus to 2.04 in Iceland. Fertility in central and eastern Europe had fallen to very low levels, but the decline now seems to have abated in many countries. Rates have broadly stabilized in western Europe, apart from Scandinavia where they have risen significantly. Women’s completed fertility is continuing to decrease almost everywhere, apart from the United States. This reduction in completed fertility is accompanied by an increase in permanent infertility. The mean length of life continues to increase in almost all European countries, although the countries of the former Soviet Union have still not returned to their 1960s levels. While female life expectancy at birth is among the highest in the world in some western European countries (Spain, Switzerland and France), it is still almost 2 years lower than in Japan.