The latest United Nations population estimates and projections report confirms what's been a concern for a long time – Europe's population is ageing and shrinking. And that includes Estonia.
Whereas in 1950, after the Second World War and Soviet deportations, Estonia's population stood at 1.1 million and is 1.3 million now, the country is expected to lose 184,000 people between now and 2050. At 14 percent, the decrease is the 14th highest in the world. However, Latvia and Lithuania will lose even more people, respectively 19.1 percent and 17.5 percent of its population.
By the middle of the century, Estonia's population will be at the same level as 100 years ago, at 1.1 million, and by 2100, just over 900,000, the UN report estimates.
As everywhere in Europe, Estonia's population is also ageing and people live longer. The median age is currently 41.7, but is expected to be 45.9 in 2050 and 47.4 in 2100. Life expectancy at birth is expected to increase from an average of 77 in 2015 to 87 in 2100.
Currently, the average number of children per woman is 1.66. There are significantly more women than men in Estonia – at 84,000, the difference would almost fill the entire city of Tartu.
According to the report, the world population reached 7.3 billion as of 2015. Sixty percent of the global population lives in Asia (4.4 billion), 16 percent in Africa (1.2 billion), 10 percent in Europe (738 million), 9 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean (634 million), and the remaining 5 percent in Northern America (358 million) and Oceania (39 million). China (1.4 billion) and India (1.3 billion) remain the two largest countries of the world, both with more than 1 billion people, representing 19 and 18 per cent of the world’s population, respectively.
The world population is projected to increase by more than 1 billion people within the next 15 years, reaching 8.5 billion in 2030, and to increase further to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100.
More than half of global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa. Asia is projected to be the second largest contributor to future global population growth, followed by Northern America, Latin America and the Caribbean and Oceania. But Europe is projected to have a smaller population in 2050 than in 2015.
Fertility in all European countries is now below the level required for full replacement of the population in the long run – around 2.1 children per woman, on average – and in the majority of cases, fertility has been below the replacement level for several decades.
Europe also has the oldest population, with a median age of 42 years in 2015, which is expected to reach 46 years in 2050 and then 47 years in 2100. By comparison, the median age for the least developed countries as a whole is 20 years in 2015 and is projected to reach 26 years in 2050 and 36 years in 2100.
However, there are few exceptions in Europe – the United Kingdom and France are expected to increase its population substantially, both overtaking Germany by the end of the century. It is partly due to immigration, as the UK will be among the top net receivers of international migrants.
Editor: S. Tambur