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The EU in the world - population

From Statistics Explained

Data from June - July 2012. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.

This article is part of a set of statistical articles based on Eurostat publication The EU in the world 2013.

The article focuses on the population’s structure and development in the European Union (EU) and in the 15 non-EU countries from the Group of Twenty (G20). It covers the key demographic indicators and gives an insight into the European population in comparison with the major economies in the rest of the world, especially with the EU's counterparts in the so-called Triad, the US and Japan, and with the BRIC countries Brazil, Russia, India and China (or BRICS if South-Africa is also included).

Figure 1: Share of world population, 2010
(%)
Source: Eurostat online data code (demo_gind) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2010 Revision)
Figure 2: Ten largest urban agglomerations in the world, 2011
(million inhabitants)
Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Urbanisation Prospects: the 2011 Revision)
Table 1: Main indicators for population, 1960 and 2010
Source: Eurostat online data codes (demo_gind) and (tps00003) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2010 Revision)
Figure 3: Median age of the population, 2010
(years)
Source: Eurostat online data code (demo_pjanind) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2010 Revision)
Figure 4: Ratio of men to women in the population, 2010 (1)
(men per 100 women)
Source: Eurostat online data code (demo_pjangroup) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2010 Revision)
Figure 5: Age pyramids, 2010
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat online data code (demo_pjangroup) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2010 Revision)
Table 2: Dependency ratios, 1960 and 2010
(% of the population aged 15-64)
Source: Eurostat online data codes (demo_pjan) and (demo_pjanind) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2010 Revision)
Figure 6: Crude marriage and divorce rates, 2009 (1)
(per 1 000 population)
Source: Eurostat online data codes (demo_nind) and (demo_ndivind) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Demographic Yearbook)
Figure 7: Ratio of births of boys to girls, average for July 2005 to June 2010 (1)
(boys per 100 girls)
Source: Eurostat online data code (demo_fasec) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2010 Revision)
Figure 8: Mean age at child bearing, average for July 2005 to June 2010 (1)
(years)
Source: Eurostat online data code (demo_find) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2010 Revision)
Table 3: Birth, fertility and death rates, annual averages for July 2000 to June 2010
Source: Eurostat online data codes (demo_gind) and (demo_find) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2010 Revision)
Table 4: Population change, annual averages for July 2000 to June 2010
(per 1 000 population)
Source: Eurostat online data code (demo_gind) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2010 Revision)
Figure 9: Analysis of the citizenship of the population, 2010 (1)
(% of total)
Source: Eurostat online data code (migr_pop1ctz), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Demographic Statistics), the OECD (International Migration Data 2011) and national census results
Figure 10: Asylum seekers, 2011
(1 000 applicants)
Source: Eurostat online data code (migr_asyappctza) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR Statistical Online Population Database)
Table 5: Population projections, 2010 and 2060 (1)
Source: Eurostat online data codes (demo_gind), (tps00003), (demo_pjan), (demo_pjanind), (proj_10c2150p) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2010 Revision)

Main statistical findings

Population size and population density

Between 1960 and 2010 the share of the world’s population living in G20 members fell from 73.5 % to 65.1 %

The world’s population was approaching 7 000 million inhabitants at the beginning of 2010 and continues to grow. Although all members of the G20 recorded higher population levels in 2010 than 50 years before, between 1960 and 2010 the share of the world’s population living in G20 members fell from 73.5 % to 65.1 %. Russia recorded the smallest overall population increase (19.2 %) during these 50 years, while the fastest population growth was recorded in Saudi Arabia, with a near seven-fold increase. The most populous countries in the world in 2010 were China and India, together accounting for 37.2 % of the world’s population (see Figure 1 and Table 1) and 57.1 % of the population in the G20 members. The population of the EU‑27 at the beginning of 2010 was 501.1 million inhabitants, 7.3 % of the world’s total.

The most densely populated members within the G20 were also in Asia, namely South Korea, India and Japan – each with more than 300 inhabitants per km², followed by China and Indonesia and then the EU‑27 with more than 100 inhabitants per km².

Nine of the ten largest urban agglomerations in the world in 2011 were in G20 members, with Dhaka (Bangladesh) the only exception – see Figure 2. Including Dhaka, seven of the ten largest urban agglomerations were in Asia, with Mexico City, New York-Newark (United States) and São Paulo (Brazil) completing the list. Worldwide, there were more than 630 urban agglomerations with a population in excess of 750 000 inhabitants and together their population of 1.5 billion people was equivalent to just over one fifth of the world’s population.

Population structure, marriages and divorces

The median age of the world’s population in 2010 was 29.2 years

The median age of the world’s population in 2010 was 29.2 years. In China, the United States, Australia, South Korea and Russia the median age was at least five years higher than the world average, while in Canada and the EU‑27 the median age was more than ten years higher, and in Japan it was more than 15 years above the world average – see Figure 3. More information on the age structures of G20 members is presented in Table 2, while some of the factors influencing this structure are presented in the rest of this article and in the article on Health, including life expectancy, fertility and migration.

In the majority of G20 members the number of men and women in the population is relatively balanced, although women often account for a slight majority of the population reflecting among other factors women’s higher life expectancy. The number of men per 100 women ranged from 86.1 in Russia to 124.0 in Saudi Arabia. Within this range, there were 101.7 men per 100 women across the whole of the world and 95.4 men per 100 women in the EU‑27 (see Figure 4). The particularly high ratio in Saudi Arabia is concentrated in the adult working age population (aged 15-64 years), with ratios more balanced for persons aged less than 15 or 65 and over; as such, the overall imbalance may reflect, in part, a gender imbalance among immigrants that have fuelled a rapid increase in population levels during recent decades.

Ageing society represents a major demographic challenge for many economies and may be linked to a range of issues, including, persistently low levels of fertility rates and significant increases in life expectancy during recent decades.

Figure 5 shows how different the age structure of the EU‑27’s population is from the average for the world. Most notably the largest shares of the world’s population are among the youngest age classes, reflecting a population structure that is younger, whereas for the EU‑27 the share of the age groups below those aged 40 to 44 years gets progressively smaller approaching the youngest cohorts, reflecting falling fertility rates over several decades and the impact of the baby-boomer cohorts on the population structure (resulting from high fertility rates in several European countries up to mid-1960s). Another notable difference is the greater gender imbalance within the EU‑27 among older age groups than is typical for the world as a whole.

The age dependency ratios shown in Table 2 summarise the level of support for older persons (aged 65 years and over) and younger persons (aged less than 15 years) provided by the working age population (those aged between 15 to 64 years). The overall age dependency ratio for the EU‑27 was lower in 2010 than it was in 1960 due to a large fall in the young-age dependency ratio more than cancelling out an increase in the old-age dependency ratio. Most of the G20 members displayed a similar pattern with two exceptions: in Japan the increase in the old-age dependency ratio exceeded the fall in the young-age dependency ratio; in Saudi Arabia both the young and old-age dependency ratios were lower in 2010 than in 1960, reflecting the large increase in the working age population in this country. In 2010 the highest age dependency ratios among G20 members recorded for Japan, Argentina and Mexico.

Indicators for marriage and divorce provide information in relation to family formation and dissolution. Marriage, as recognised by the law of each country, has long been considered to mark the formation of a family unit. Marriage and divorce rates are generally presented relative to 1 000 members of overall population – see Figure 6. The lowest marriage rates among the G20 members in 2009 were in Argentina and South Africa (2008 data) with the rate for the EU‑27 the next lowest, while the highest rates were recorded in Indonesia (2008 data), Russia and Turkey. Concerning the divorce rate, the value for Russia stands out, being considerably higher than any of the other G20 members (for which data are available). The ratio of divorces to marriages was highest in Russia and lowest in Indonesia.

Natural population change

The crude birth rate in the EU‑27 among the lowest across the G20 members

There are two distinct components of population change: the natural change that results out of the difference between the number of live births and the number of deaths; and the net effect of migration, in other words, the balance between people coming into and people leaving a territory. The following tables and figures look at several indicators related to births, deaths and migration and their impact on the overall level of population.

Unlike the gender balance of the whole population, where most G20 members show a slight imbalance towards more women, the ratio of boys to girls at birth shows a somewhat higher number of boys being born than girls – see Figure 7. The ratio of the number of births of boys per 100 births of girls fell in a narrow range for most G20 members, between 103 in South Africa and Saudi Arabia and 106 in Russia; India (108) and South Korea (110) were somewhat above this range and China (120) far above it.

One of the reasons used to explain partly the downward development of fertility rates is the decision of parents to delay starting a family. Figure 8 shows a wide spread in the average age of women at child bearing during the years 2005 to 2010, from 25.3 years in India to 30 years or above in Japan, Australia, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. For the EU‑27 the average age in 2009 was 29.8 years, a slight increase over the 29.3 years average that was recorded in 2003.

The crude birth rate in the EU‑27 was marginally higher in the years 2006 to 2010 than it was between 2001 and 2005, but remained among the lowest across the G20 members, with only Japan and South Korea recording lower birth rates. Crude birth rates recorded in India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa between 2005 and 2010 were more than double the average rate for the EU‑27 in 2010.

When the death rate exceeds the birth rate there is negative natural population change; this situation was experienced in Russia and Japan over the period 2005 to 2010. The reverse situation, natural population growth due to a higher birth rate, was observed for all of the remaining G20 members (see Tables 3 and 4) with the largest differences recorded in Saudi Arabia, Mexico and India. South Africa recorded the highest crude death rate (in part reflecting an HIV/AIDS epidemic resulting in a high number of deaths among relatively young persons) such that the difference between the crude birth and death rates in this country was not large despite its very high birth rate.

Migration and asylum

An increase in the population numbers in almost all G20 members between 2000 and 2010

The combined effect of natural population change and net migration including statistical adjustment (which refers to changes observed in the population figures which cannot be attributed to births, deaths, immigration or emigration) can be seen in the total change in population levels. During the ten years between 2000 and 2010 all of the G20 members, except Russia, experienced an increase in their population numbers: Russia’s declining population resulted from positive net migration being less substantial than the negative natural population change. Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea and Turkey experienced negative net migration that was less than the positive increase from natural population change. The EU‑27, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United States experienced the cumulative effects of positive natural population change and net migration.

Australia, Saudi Arabia, Canada and the United States had the largest shares of foreigners in their population (see Figure 9 overleaf), in line with high positive net migration rates recorded for these countries in recent years. The EU‑27 had a comparatively low share of foreigners (non-EU citizens), equal to some 4.0 % of its total population in 2009. The share of foreigners in China and Turkey was considerably lower, at around 0.1 %, while in Mexico, Brazil and India it was also less than 0.5 %.

In 2011, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that there were 895 284 asylum applicants across the world, of which 302 445 (from non-member countries) were in the EU‑27. Among those seeking asylum in the EU‑27 a relatively high proportion of applicants were from Afghanistan, Russia, Pakistan, Iraq, Serbia, Somalia, Iran and Nigeria (each accounting for between 28 000 and 11 000 asylum seekers). The highest number of asylum applicants into the EU‑27 from G20 countries came from Russia (18 330), Turkey (6 455) and China (5 540); note, the latter figure includes applicants from Hong Kong. Figure 10 shows that aside from the EU‑27, there were relatively high numbers of asylum seekers in South Africa (many of whom originated from neighbouring Zimbabwe) and in Canada in 2011; note that the figures for the United States exclude individuals pending a decision on their asylum claim.

Future population: population projections

The total number of inhabitants projected to reach more than 9 600 million by 2060

The latest United Nations population projections suggest that the pace at which the world’s population is expanding will slow in the coming decades; however, the total number of inhabitants is projected to reach more than 9 600 million by 2060, representing an increase of 39.4 % compared with 2010. This slowdown in population growth will be particularly evident for developed and emerging economies as the number of inhabitants within the G20 – excluding the EU‑27 – is projected to increase by 15.1 % between 2010 and 2060 while the EU‑27’s population is projected (by Eurostat) to increase by 3.0 % over the same period. The population of many developing countries, in particular, those in Africa, is likely to continue growing at a rapid pace. Among the G20 members the fastest population growth between 2010 and 2060 is projected to be in Saudi Arabia, while the populations of Japan, Russia, China and South Korea are projected to be smaller in 2060 than they were in 2010.

Old-age dependency ratios are projected to continue to rise in all G20 members, suggesting that there will be an increasing burden to provide for social expenditure related to population ageing (pensions, healthcare, institutional care). The EU‑27’s old-age dependency ratio is projected to reach 29.5 % by 2060, around 7.3 percentage points above the world average, but considerably lower than in Japan, South Korea or China. With relatively low fertility rates the young-age dependency ratio is projected to be lower in 2060 than it was in 2010 in all G20 members, dropping to 14.3 % in the EU‑27, some 4.5 percentage points below the projected world average.

Data sources and availability

The statistical data were mainly extracted during June and July 2012.

The indicators are often compiled according to international – sometimes global – standards, for example, UN standards for national accounts and the IMF’s standards for balance of payments statistics. Although most data are based on international concepts and definitions there may be certain discrepancies in the methods used to compile the data.

EU‑27 and euro area data

Almost all of the indicators presented for the EU‑27 and EA-17 aggregates have been drawn from Eurobase, Eurostat’s online database. Eurobase is updated regularly, so there may be differences between data appearing in this publication and data that is subsequently downloaded. In exceptional cases some indicators for the EU have been extracted from international sources, for example, when values are expressed in purchasing power parities. Otherwise, European Commission sources have been used.

G20 countries from the rest of the world

For the 15 G20 countries that are not members of the EU, the data presented have generally been extracted from a range of international sources listed in the Introduction. In a few cases the data available from these international sources have been supplemented by data for individual countries from national statistics authorities. For some of the indicators a range of international statistical sources are available, each with their own policies and practices concerning data management (for example, concerning data validation, correction of errors, estimation of missing data, and frequency of updating). In general, attempts have been made to use only one source for each indicator in order to provide a comparable analysis between the countries.

Context

As a population grows or contracts its structure changes. In many developed economies the population’s age structure has become older as post-war baby-boom generations reach retirement age. Furthermore, many countries have experienced a general increase in life expectancy combined with a fall in fertility, in some cases to a level below that necessary to keep the size of the population constant in the absence of migration. If sustained over a lengthy period, these changes can pose considerable challenges associated with an ageing society which impact on a range of policy areas, including labour markets, pensions and the provision of healthcare, housing and social services.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Demography (t_pop)
Demography - National data (t_demo)
Population (t_demo_pop)
Population density (tps00003)

Database

Demography (pop)
Demography - National data (demo)
Demographic balance and crude rates (demo_gind)
Population (demo_pop)
Population on 1 January by age and sex (demo_pjan)
Population on 1 January by five years age groups and sex (demo_pjangroup)
Population on 1 January: Structure indicators (demo_pjanind)
Fertility (demo_fer)
Live births by mother's age at last birthday and by newborn's sex (demo_fasec)
Fertility indicators (demo_find)
Marriage and divorce (demo_nup)
Marriage indicators (demo_nind)
Divorce indicators (demo_ndivind)
International Migration and Asylum (migr)
Asylum (migr_asy)
Applications (migr_asyapp)
Asylum and new asylum applicants by citizenship, age and sex Annual aggregated data (rounded) (migr_asyappctza)
Population by citizenship and by country of birth (migr_stock)
Population by sex, age group and citizenship (migr_pop1ctz)
Population projections (proj)
EUROPOP2010 - Convergence scenario, national level (proj_10c)
1st January population by sex and 5-year age groups (proj_10c2150p)

Dedicated section

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links

  • OECD
  • UNHCR
  • United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs
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