In 2012, for every person aged 65 or older, there were four people of working age in the EU27. On 1st January 2012, the EU27 population was estimated at 503.7 million, a growth of six 6 percent compared with 1992. Over the same period, the share of those aged 65 years or older increased from 14 to 18 percent. As well as the population age structure, family structures are also changing, influenced by fewer marriages, more divorces and an increasing share of children born outside marriage.
This information comes from the Special Supplement on Demographic Trends1 to the EU Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review, published jointly by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union and the Directorate General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission. The first part of the supplement is dedicated to recent and historical trends related to population changes and structures, while the other parts highlight topics such as fertility, migration, marriage and divorce.
Around three people of working age for every older person in Italy and Germany
The age structure of the EU27 population can be examined using age dependency ratios2, which show the level of support to the two dependent generations (under 15 years and 65 years or older) from the working age population (15-64 years). Looking at the young age dependency ratio2 in the EU27, this decreased from 28.5 percent in 1992 to 23.4 percent in 2012. During this period, the ratio fell in all Member States, except Denmark (+2 percentage points). In 2012, the young age dependency ratio ranged from 20 percent in Bulgaria and Germany to 33 percent in Ireland and 29 percent in France. The old age dependency ratio2 in the EU27 increased from 21.1 percent in 1992 to 26.8 percent to 2012. During this period, the ratio rose in all Member States, except Ireland (-0.4 pp). In 2012, the old age dependency ratio ranged from 18 percent in Slovakia, Ireland and Cyprus to 32 percent in Italy and 31 percent in Germany. As a result, the total age dependency ratio2 in the EU27 grew slightly over the last two decades, from 49.5 percent in 1992 to 50.2 percent in 2012, meaning there are around two persons of working age for each dependent person. In the Member States, the total age dependency ratio in 2012 ranged from 39 percent in Slovakia to 56 percent in France and 55 percent in Sweden.
Decreasing trend in the number of marriages
The marriage rate in the EU27 has decreased continuously over the last two decades, from 6.3 marriages per 1 000 persons in 1990 to 5.2 percent in 2000 and 4.4 percent in 2010. This pattern could be found in a majority of Member States. In 2011, the highest marriage rates were recorded in Cyprus (7.3 marriages per 1000 persons), Lithuania (6.3 percent) and Malta (6.1 percent), and the lowest in Bulgaria (2.9 percent), Slovenia (3.2 percent), Luxembourg (3.3 percent), Spain, Italy and Portugal (all 3.4 percent).
Highest divorce rate in Latvia
Over the same period, the divorce rate in the EU27 has increased slightly. In 1990, there were 1.6 divorces per 1000 persons in the EU27, while the rate was 1.8 percent in 2000 and 1.9 percent in 2009. In a majority of Member States, the divorce rate also grew over the last two decades. In 2011, the highest divorce rates were found in Latvia (4.0 divorces per 1000 persons) and Lithuania (3.4 percent), while there was less than one divorce per 1000 persons in Malta3 (0.1 percent), Ireland (0.7 percent) and Italy (0.9 percent).
Highest share of birth outside marriage in Estonia
The decreasing trend in the number of marriages is also reflected in an increase of children born outside marriage. In 1990, 17 percent of all live births in the EU27 were outside marriage, compared with 27 percent in 2000 and 40 percent in 2011. Over this period, the share of live births outside marriage increased in all Member States. There were considerable differences in the share of live births outside marriage across the Member States. In 1990, almost half of live births were outside marriage in Sweden and Denmark, while it was 2 percent or less in Cyprus, Malta and Greece. In 2011, the highest shares were registered in Estonia (60 percent), Slovenia (57 percent), Bulgaria and France (both 56 percent), and the lowest in Greece (7 percent), Cyprus (17 percent) and Poland (21 percent).
1. The Special Supplement on Demographic Trends is available free of charge in pdf format in the dedicated section for population statistics on the Eurostat website: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/population/introduction. Data presented in this News Release could differ from the data published in the report, due to updates made after the data extractions used for the publication.
2. The age dependency ratios show the level of support needed by the young and/or the old generation (dependent generations) from the working age population (15-64 years). The total age dependency ratio is calculated as the ratio of the sum of persons aged below 15 and 65 or older to the working age population. The young age dependency ratio is calculated as the ratio of persons aged below 15 to the working age population and the old age dependency ratio as the ratio of persons aged 65 years or older to the working age population.
3. Divorce has only been possible by law since 2011.
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