Official EU population statistics show increasing diversity

The most current Demography Report from the European Union’s statistical office EuroStat provides concrete numbers for many of the trends that Diversity practitioners often refer to. Ageing, gender gaps, migration and individual life styles. It also includes some figures from individual countries.

Migration as a driver

Europe is not dying out but continues to grow. For many, this will be good news and they might be surprised by the second fact that is linked to the overall finding: Net migration is the main driver of population growth. Italy and Luxembourg hat the highest relative net migration. Also in countries with negative population change, negative net migration was an important factor in six of them.

Ageing continues

Between 1994 and 2014, the proportion of older people (65 or over) increased by 4.0 percentage points in the EU. This increase came at the expense of a decline of 3.0 percentage points in the proportion of younger people (0-14) and of 1.0 percentage point in the working-age population (15-64). Another illustration of the ageing process is the median ago of the population, which continues to increase, from 36.2 in 1994 to 42.2 years in 2014.

Fertility recovering very slowly

The number of children per women decreased considerably between 1980 and 2000, when it was below reproduction rate in all countries and even below 1.3 in 8 member states. The recovery of the past ten years brought this number up to above 1.3 in all countries except Poland, Spain and Portugal. The disparity between the highest and lowest fertility rates has decreased which shows a convergence. France and Ireland have the highest fertility, being close to 2.0. Both countries have higher than average percentages of mothers with foreign citizenship.

Migrants contributing to population stability

One of the few data that shed some light on the growing diversity in a population is the citizenship of mothers. 14% of them had foreign citizenship (in 2013). The range is very large from 0.01% in Romania (Bulgaria and Slovakia also below 1%) to 63% in Luxembourg (Belgium, Ireland, Cyprus and Austria between 20% and 30%, followed by the high population countries Italy, Spain, Germany, UK, Sweden and France.

Gender gap in life expectancy

The report shows that women continue to live longer than men in all EU countries. In the ten years up to 2013, this gap decreased in all countries except Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta. The lowest gaps in life expectancy at birth were found in Sweden, the Netherlands, UK, Denmark and Ireland. The highest in the three Baltic States, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary.

Migration within and from outside

During 2013, an estimated 1.3 million immigrants came from outside the EU to an EU country and the same number migrated from one EU country to another. The highest numbers of immigrants were reported for many of the large countries: Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain. The latter also reported the highest number of emigrants, followed by the UK, France, Poland and Germany. Relative to their size, Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus had the highest immigration proportion. The percentage of immigrants with the citizenship of the country they are migrating to ranges a lot between the highest percentages for Romania, the Baltic States, Portugal and Slovakia (50 – 90%) and Italy, Austria and Luxembourg (below 10%). These numbers – but not the general distribution of the country clusters – change slightly when country of birth is analysed instead of citizenship. This aspect is also covered in the following section.

Non-EU citizenship and/or non-EU born

The EU report shows 19.6 million of the EU population being non-EU nationals (3.9%) while a larger number, 33.5 million, was born outside the EU (there is no break-down of citizenship available for this group). Also, 14.3 million EU citizens were living in another EU country. 17.9 million were born in another EU country. The highest numbers of non-nationals were found in the large countries Germany, UK, Italy, Spain and France, which together represent 63% of the EU population and 76% of all non-nationals living in the EU. The non-national groups in each country vary. In the Netherlands, for example, the largest non-national group by citizenship is Poles while by country of birth it is Turks. In Spain, the largest group by citizenship is Romanians, by birth Moroccans.


The countries with the highest naturalisation rates (number of citizenships granted per total number of non-nationals living in a country) were in Sweden, Hungary and Portugal. Some 871,000 citizens of non-EU countries acquired EU citizenship in 2013, a 21 % increase from 2012. Non-EU citizens accounted for 89% of citizenships acquired. In Luxembourg and Hungary, more citizenships were granted to other EU Nationals than to non-EU nationals.

Less marriages, more divorces – and more births outside marriage

The number of marriages is declining and the number of divorces is increasing. The decline in the number marriages may be due in part to ageing of the population. More and more children are also being born to unmarried women. Since 1965, the crude marriage rate in the EU-28 has declined by almost 50% in relative terms (from 7.8 per 1000 persons in 1965 to 4.2 in 2011). The proportion of births outside marriage in the EU-28 in 2012 was 40%. It continues to increase, signalling new patterns of family formation alongside the more traditional pattern where children are born within marriage.

Implications on consumer and labour markets

It is quite typical for demography reports to analyse the data mainly (or only) with regard to the implications of the trends on the working age population (WAP). In the case of the latest EU report, this says: ‘Working age population in the EU has started declining in 2010. At the same time, Europe is slowly recovering from the financial crisis, with still around 10% of the active population in unemployment and 23% of the working-age population not active at all on the labour market. In contrast, the situation in the future could be characterised by labour shortages.”

From a Diversity management perspective this points to three aspects that do not tend to be the focus:

  • The need to activate working-age persons who are inactive, e.g. women with children
  • The need to ensure to tap into all available talent from diverse backgrounds to anticipate labour shortages
  • The need to acknowledge that employees and customers less frequently comply with given societal norms

The EU report also points out the need to increase productivity to compensate for part of the decline in working age population. Diversity could and should be seen as a key element to drive productivity of an increasingly diverse workforce.