New population data provide insight on aging, migration

August 31, 2016, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Projected relative change in the number of live births in EU countries, 2015-2050. Credit: Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). 2016. European Demographic Datasheet 2016. Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/OEAW, WU), Vienna.

The European Demographic Datasheet 2016, produced by demographers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Vienna Institute of Demography, provides a comprehensive look at key demographic indicators and main population trends for all European countries, including population projections for 2050. The datasheet will be launched at the European Population Conference on 31 August 2016.

Available freely online, the data cover fertility, mortality, migration, and structure including population aging, for all countries of Europe and for broader European regions, Japan, and the USA. The data sheet features maps, population pyramids, tables, graphs and thematic boxes highlighting selected topics, including adjusted indicators of total fertility, pension age, and EU-wide population trends including EU population changes with and without a British exit from the EU (Brexit). It pays special attention to the importance of migration for current and future population changes across the continent, and to newly developed alternative indicators of population aging developed at IIASA.

New measures of aging

The work on the 2016 data sheet was led by IIASA World Population Program Deputy Program Director Sergei Scherbov, who is also director of demographic research at the Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/OeAW, WU). He says, "In these data, we apply our new measures of aging that take into account changing life expectancy. This changes the picture of aging in Europe drastically." Using the new measures, Scherbov says, eastern European countries show the fastest rate of population aging in Europe, while standard indicators show a deceptively slow rate of for that region.

The data sheet explores some results from the Reassessing Aging from a Population Perspective (Re-Aging) project, which Scherbov leads along with IIASA researcher Warren Sanderson. One aspect of this effort is presented on the 2016 data sheet: the concept of intergenerationally equitable normal pension age (IENPA). The IENPA is the retirement age that ensures that the balance of pension contributions and receipts is the same for each generation, and that pension systems are flexible enough to adapt to changes.

Migration makes the difference

The new data also show how migration contributes to and decline in different countries, featuring the population pyramids for native and immigrant populations, and showing population trends with and without migration up to 2050.

For example, for the EU as a whole, the projections show a population increase of 6.6% if migration is considered, while with zero migration, the EU population would decline 5.4% by 2050. For some European countries, the projections show potential increases of over 30% with the influence of migration.

"Migration is reshaping in many European countries, with population growth increasingly driven by migration rather than by fertility rates. Some countries with low fertility, such as Austria, Switzerland, or Spain prior to the 2008 recession, have experienced robust population growth driven by immigration during the recent decades. In contrast, many parts of eastern Europe, including Romania or Lithuania, have been rapidly losing population due to intensive emigration to more prosperous regions of Europe," says Tomas Sobotka, a senior researcher at the Wittgenstein Centre and Vienna Institute of Demography who co-led the work on the data sheet along with Scherbov.

The data sheet has been released every two years since 2006, and is a key resource for policymakers and demographers interested in EU population dynamics.

For the first time, the researchers have produced an online version of the data sheet which will be available at http://www.populationeurope.org. The website provides expanded data coverage, additional population pyramids, ranking charts, and details about data sources and definitions, and is optimized for mobile devices. All data are freely available to download.

Explore further: Are populations aging more slowly than we think?

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