A couple of years ago I blogged about the 25 year long population decline that was being suffered by Romania. From a peak of about 23 million people, the Eastern European country is now home to fewer than 20 million people and that figure is still falling. Back in 2016 I mentioned some of the initiatives that the government had brought in to curb the population decline. I also questioned how much effect they would have on the figures since so many young Romanians had fled their country to richer European countries in the West that there are simply not the numbers left to boost the flagging numbers of babies born each year.
So far my pessimism has been borne out. Last year the Romanian population dropped by another 120,000 people to around 19.52 million people. (A drop of about 0.6 per cent of the total population.) This was actually a slightly better result than 2016, when the population fell by 122,000. However, the decline is still serious, and it is mainly due to natural decrease, rather than not migration. According to the National Statistics Institute (INS), migration accounted for the population dropping in 2017 by 53,000, the remaining 67,000 difference was due to natural decline: more deaths than births. At the same time, the population is getting older at a quite rapid rate. The number of elderly (those aged over 65 years) for every 100 young people (I assume those under 15 years) grew in 2017 from 114.4 to 116.9. And of course, the greater the proportion of the population that is elderly, the less chance there is that the country’s population decline is going to reverse anytime soon! The UN reported earlier this year that a number of Eastern European countries will see their populations fall by more than 15 per cent by the middle of the century. Romania was one of those Eastern European countries; it was expected to decline by 17 per cent to around 16 million people in 2050.
What was also of interest in these figures is that the Romanian population is still relatively rural. About 46 per cent of the population does not live in urban areas and that proportion is growing – in 2017 the proportion of the population living in urban areas dropped by 0.3%. More elderly, more rural and shrinking. Unfortunately that seems to be Romania’s story for the next few decades at least.