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Refugee Crisis 2015: Could Syrians Help Europe's Aging Population Problem? - by Lydia Tomkiw

 European countries have some of the world's most rapidly aging populations, meaning they need more young people to replace retiring workers. As record numbers of refugees continue to try to enter the European Union from conflict-ridden and repressive states, including Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea, officials said some EU states could benefit from the influx of young refugees and families amid a looming demographic crisis. Here’s a look at the current population issues facing Europe.

The overall fertility rate, the average number of children a woman is expected to have over her childbearing years, has fallen across Europe since the mid-1960s, according to Eurostat. Europeans have been having fewer children and waiting until later in life to have them. This means that in order to keep the population across the continent constant, a fertility rate of 2.1, called the replacement level, is needed. As of 2013, the EU had a rate of 1.55.

While overall the 506 million population of the EU has shown growth, with an increase of 1.3 million people from 2014, the populations of 12 states have declined and the union faces an increasing population of people over 65 in every member state, according to Eurostat. The number of working-age people in the EU has been shrinking compared with those retiring.

The countries with the lowest fertility rates were Portugal at 1.21, Spain at 1.27 and Poland at 1.29. The countries with the highest rates were Sweden at 1.89, Ireland at 1.96 and France at 1.99.

Read more: Refugee Crisis 2015: Could Syrians Help Europe's Aging Population Problem?

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