Changing continent: The EU's population is declining, new figures reveal

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Eurostat's Demography of Europe report documents various factors affecting the lives of tens of millions of people.


The European Union population decreased by more than half a million compared to 2020, according to the latest demographic statistics published by Eurostat.

The report revealed the adverse effect of COVID-19 casualties on the EU population, interrupting the annual growth observed until 2020. 

Despite 17 EU member nations showing an absolute increase in population, seven countries followed the opposite trend, including significant decreases in Italy, Poland, Greece, and Croatia. 

The annual demographic statistics, produced by Europe's official stats crunchers aim to look at how the population is developing in the region across a number of key metrics. 

Here are some of the highlights from the latest report: 

EU population on the decline

The EU's population on 1 January 2022, was 446.7 million - a slight decrease compared to the same day in 2021.

Although the population overall has grown by 4% compared to 2001, the population fell for the second consecutive year.  

There were 585,000 fewer people in January 2022 compared to the first day of 2020 in the European Union.

The EU population continued to grow annually until January 2020 and then began picking up the negative trend, which is attributed to the casualties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

EU is ageing fast

The latest numbers show over a fifth of EU inhabitants are now aged 65 or over. 

With access to better healthcare facilities, the share of those aged 80 or above almost doubled in 2022 compared to 2002. 

Alternatively, a decrease in the population below the age of 20 was also seen, contributing to the overall ageing figures. 

That means an increase in the median age of the people residing in the EU. 

The median age in the EU in 2022 was 44.4 years, an increase of almost six years compared to the figures from 20 years ago. 

While Italy had the highest median age amongst the member states at 48 years, Cyprus stood at the bottom with 38.3 years. 

Women live longer in the EU

Women in the EU live longer than men in the EU, based on the latest life expectancy figures. 

Although the overall life expectancy fell by 1.2 years between 2019 and 2021, figures show women live 5.7 years longer than men. 

Life expectancy at birth for women was 82.9 for women in 2021 compared to 77.2 for men. All the EU member states followed the same trend. 


The overall average life expectancy has grown from 77.6 years in 2002 to 80.1 in 2021 with factors like reductions in infant mortality, rising living standards, improved lifestyles, better education and advances in healthcare and medicine delaying premature deaths.

Additional sources • Sudesh Baniya

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