Austria’s population will grow by 60,000 a year due to mass immigration, the country’s official statistics agency has said.
Konrad Pesendorfer, head of Statistik Austria, said that by 2030 the small central European nation will have 9.3 million inhabitants, with statisticians forced to revise figures due to the migrant crisis.
Last year, nearly 1.5 million people living in the country were born abroad, making up one in six of Austria’s population. The Local says that figure is set to rise to 2 million by 2030, making up one out of every five people in Austria.
Austria has been particularly heavily hit by Europe’s ongoing migrant crisis, with thousands streaming across the border from Slovenia. Austrian leaders have proved reluctant to stem the flow, however, with Chancellor Werner Faymann taking exception to a border fence in Hungary and comparing it to Nazism.
However, the Austrian government has recently changed its tone, and began building a razor-wire fence along part of the border.
“A fence is not a bad thing. Anyone who has a house, has a garden and a fence,” said Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner. She added, however, the she would prefer not to use the word “fence” to describe it, telling journalists: “If it is possible to avoid the word ‘fence’ from a technical point of view, then that’s fine by me.”
Chancellor Faymann was forced to play down the new barrier, saying: “This is not about a border barrier of several kilometres. We are not fencing Austria in.”
The migrant boom comes at the same time as Austria’s native population declines due to low birth rate. The elderly population currently makes up 18 per cent of the population, but is set to rise to nearly one in three by 2060 as Austrians shun parenthood.
Despite this, the total number of children is still expected to increase by eight per cent in the next 20 years thanks to the migrant influx.