On January 1, 2018, the population of the European Union (EU) was estimated at 512.6 million, compared with
511.5 million on January 1, 2017. During the year 2017, more deaths than births were recorded in the EU (5.3 million deaths and 5.1 million births), meaning that the natural change of the EU population was negative. The population change (positive, with 1.1 million more inhabitants) was therefore due to net migration.
With 82.9 million residents (or 16.2 % of the total EU population on 1 January 2018), Germany is the most populated EU Member State, ahead of France (67.2 million, or 13.1%), the United Kingdom (66.2 million, or 12.9 %), Italy (60.5 million, or 11.8 %), Spain (46.7 million, or 9.1 %) and Poland (38.0 million, or 7.4 %). For the remaining Member States, nine have a share of between 1.5 % and 4 % of the EU population and thirteen a share below 1.5 %.
These figures are issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, on the World Population Day (11 July).
Population increase in nineteen Member States
During 2017, the population increased in nineteen EU Member States and decreased in nine. The largest relative increase was observed in Malta (+32.9 per 1 000 residents), ahead of Luxembourg (+19.0‰), Sweden (+12.4‰), Ireland (+11.2‰) and Cyprus (+11.0‰). In contrast, the largest decrease was recorded in Lithuania (-13.8‰), followed by Croatia (-11.8‰), Latvia (-8.1‰), Bulgaria (-7.3‰) and Romania (-6.2‰). In total, the population of the EU increased by 1.1 million people (+2.1 per 1000 residents) during the year 2017.
Highest birth rate in Ireland, lowest in Italy
During the year 2017, 5.1 million babies were born in the EU, almost 90 000 less than the previous year. Across Member States, the highest crude birth rates in 2017 were recorded in Ireland (12.9 per 1 000 residents), Sweden (11.5‰), the United Kingdom and France (both 11.4‰), while the lowest were registered in Southern Member States: Italy (7.6‰), Greece (8.2‰), Portugal and Spain (both 8.4‰), Croatia (8.9‰) and Bulgaria (9.0‰). At EU level, the crude birth rate was 9.9 per 1 000 residents.
In the meantime, 5.3 million deaths were registered in the EU in 2017, 134 200 fewer than the previous year. Ireland (6.3 per 1 000 residents) and Cyprus (7.0‰) as well as Luxembourg (7.1‰) had in 2017 the lowest crude death rate, followed by Malta (7.6‰), the Netherlands (8.8‰), Spain and France (both 9.0‰). At the opposite end of the scale, Bulgaria (15.5‰), Latvia (14.8‰), Lithuania (14.2‰), Hungary (13.5‰), Romania (13.3‰) and Croatia (12.9‰) recorded the highest. The crude death rate was 10.3 per 1 000 residents in the EU.
Consequently, Ireland (with a natural change of its population of +6.6‰) remained in 2017 the Member State where births most outnumbered deaths, ahead of Cyprus (+3.8‰), Luxembourg (+3.2‰), France (+2.5‰), Sweden (+2.3‰) and the United Kingdom (+2.2‰). In contrast, among the fourteen EU Member States which registered a negative natural change in 2017, deaths outnumbered births the most in Bulgaria (-6.5‰), followed by Croatia and Latvia (both -4.1‰), Lithuania (-4.0‰), Hungary (-3.8‰), Romania (-3.6‰), Greece (-3.3‰) and Italy (-3.2‰).
Methods and definitions
Population change refers to the difference between the size of the population at the end and the beginning of the period. Specifically, it is the difference in population size on 1 January of two consecutive years. A positive population change is also referred to as population growth. A negative population change is also referred to as population decline. The population change consists of two components: natural change and net migration.
The natural change of population represents the difference between the number of live births and the number of deaths during the year. A positive natural change, also known as natural increase, occurs when live births outnumber deaths. A negative natural change, also named as natural decrease, occurs when live births are less numerous than deaths.
Net migration is calculated as the difference between total population change and natural change. It therefore includes statistical adjustment corresponding to all changes in the population that cannot be classified as births, deaths, immigration or emigration.
A crude rate is calculated as the ratio of the number of events to the average population of the respective area in a given year. For easier presentation, it is multiplied by 1 000: the result is therefore expressed per 1 000 persons (of the average population).