European population growth has slowed over the last thirty years, with a steadily decreasing excess of births over deaths. Net migration is now a major contributor and in some countries plays a decisive role in maintaining positive population growth. This general trend is common to most European countries, reflecting the combined effects of fertility decline, higher life expectancy, and positive and increasing net migration. At a more detailed level of analysis, the countries of Europe exhibit similar trends in family transformation, with fewer marriages and more informal unions, and in the major causes of death, with decreases in cardiovascular and cancer mortality. However, rather than a convergence of these trends across Europe, we are witnessing a repetition of similar changes at intervals of several years, with the gaps between countries or sub-regions remaining largely unchanged. The future of the European population will depend largely on fertility in coming years, with growth if fertility is high, decline if it is low, and relative stability if it remains at moderate levels. Whatever the level of fertility in the next forty years, European population ageing will be inevitable, even if immigration remains at current levels, and substantial differences across Europe will persist.
- population growth