Britain, the EU’s 8th largest state in terms of area, will overtake Germany to become the EU’s most populous nation by 2060 according to the “2015 Ageing Report” published by the European Commission yesterday. The population is projected to rise to 80.1 million from its current base of 64.1 million.
In part this is due to the report’s assumption of higher fertility rates in the UK of 1.93 births per woman to Germany’s 1.4, but a projected net migration rate of 210,100 thousand per year is also responsible for the increase. Migration analysts note that the two figures complement each other as migrants moving to Britain are often in the key child-bearing ages.
The report finds that the population of the EU as a whole will rise by 2060, but not by a significant margin. Growing from 507 million now to only 523 million then, the more eye-catching statistic is for movement within the EU.
Decreases in population are expected for about half the EU Member States (including Germany, Estonia, Spain, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia) with the sharpest declines expected in Lithuania (-38%), Latvia (-31%), Bulgaria (-25%), Greece (-23%) and Portugal (-22%). For all other Member States an increase is projected.
The report also highlights serious implications for what it calls the European Social Model. The welfare state systems used across the EU will come under increased pressure from demographic trends that will turn Europe “increasingly grey.” The report predicts an outcome that will require fundamental reform:
“…the demographic old-age dependency ratio (people aged 65 or above relative to those aged 15-64) is projected to increase from 27.8% to 50.1% in the EU as a whole over the projection period. This implies that the EU would move from having four working-age people for every person aged over 65 years to about two working-age persons.”