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1/17/16

Population Decrease: Across Europe, more people are dying than being born - by Olivia Goldhill

Demographers have a name for when a population has more deaths than births: “Natural decrease.” It’s rarely discussed because “it is unusual in the modern era,” according to a recent research paper, but that’s about to change as natural decrease is becoming increasingly common across Europe, and in many parts of the United States.

In an article published in December’s issue of Population and Development Review, authors led by Kenneth Johnson of University of New Hampshire note that, “In Europe today there is virtually no overall population growth from natural increase.” There is only one country—Kosovo—with a population that is naturally growing by more than 1% per year.

By contrast, 17 European countries are experiencing natural decrease, including Russia, Germany and Italy. After analyzing census data from 2000 to 2010, the authors conclude:

“Deaths exceeded births in most counties of Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic, as well as in Sweden and the Baltic states. Farther south, natural decrease was also occurring in the majority of the counties of Greece, Portugal, and Italy.”

Natural decrease doesn’t mean a country is in danger of dying out completely, but it can create major economic difficulties. A declining population will tend to grow older, leaving fewer people in the workforce. As the proportion of old people rises, younger workers must pay a higher tax burden to pay for higher retirement, pension, and healthcare costs.

Read more: Across Europe, more people are dying than being born - Quartz

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