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Eastern Europe is expected to lose massive numbers of people over coming decades

Elenabsl | Shutterstock

Bulgaria could lose as many people as now live in its capital.

The world is expected to add another 2 billion people by the middle of the 21st century, but one corner of Planet Earth will be seeing a trend in the opposite direction, according to UN forecasts.

Eastern Europe is expected to lose significant portions of its population in the coming decades. Countries in Eastern Europe dominate the list of the nations that are expected to lose the most, and Japan, which is often cited for its “demographic winter,” doesn’t even make the top 10.

Bulgaria leads the list, with an expected 23% decrease in population by 2050. Following that are:

Latvia (22%)
Moldova (19%)
Ukraine (18%)
Croatia (17%)
Lithuania (17%)
Romania (17%)
Serbia (15%)
Poland (15%)
Hungary (15%)

The anticipated shortfall in Bulgaria is 1.7 million people. As the website Axios points out, that’s a number equivalent to the entire present population of its capital, Sofia, and the metropolitan area surrounding it.

The next 10 on the list also include many Eastern European nations sprinkled in:

Japan (15%)
Georgia (13%)
Portugal (13%)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (13%)
Estonia (13%)
Lebanon (11.0%)
Greece (11%)
South Korea (10%)
Albania (9%)
Belarus (9%)

The reasons cited for the decline are low birth rates (fertility rates in these countries range between 1.3 and 1.6 children per woman) and high rates of emigration. Young people, especially those of an age when they normally would be having children, are in search of better opportunities in Western countries.

The world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Over half of the increase is expected to come from just nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States. And most of the growth is expected to come from sub-Saharan Africa, whose population is expected to nearly double.

Marcus Roberts at Mercatornet reports some other interesting angles about these trends:

While the population is growing, the global fertility rate will continue to fall from its current 2.5 children per woman to 2.2. More and more countries will start shrinking in population: 55 countries are expected to see a decline of at least one per cent by 2050 and almost half of those 55 countries will see a drop of at least 10 per cent. Further, this growing population will be much older. Currently, one in eleven people in the world are over the age of 65. By 2050 this proportion will have increased to one-in-six. In North America and Europe, a quarter of the population will be over the age of 65. Life expectancy will increase to 77.1 years in 2050.

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