In January 2020, the population of the EU was estimated at 447.7 million people, a number that has been gradually growing since 1960 when the EU counted only 354.5 million inhabitants. While the natural population change, due to childbirth and mortality, has been negative since 2012, this has been partly compensated by a gradual increase in migration, leading to an average yearly increase of 2 people for every 1000 people. However, it is expected that this growth will slow down further in the future. Furthermore, as Europeans continue to live longer and have fewer children, the population will continue to age.
These demographic changes are not uniform across Europe and have an important social, economic and environmental impact on different EU regions. On average, there is an increasing number of inhabitants in cities while there is a considerable decline and aging of the population in more rural or remote regions. While this shift in population is causing urban areas to flourish with an increase in jobs and career opportunities, it is likely to worsen the economic decline already faced by more rural areas, widening the gap between wealthy and poor regions. On the other hand, the concentration of population in cities has negative consequences like an increase in pollution, traffic congestion, lower quality of life, and the lack of affordable housing. Furthermore, as many densely populated urban areas are located near coasts and rivers and suffer from the urban heat island effect, the European population may increasingly be affected by the effects of climate change on weather related hazards like floods, heat waves and other natural disasters. Through the European structural and Investments funds, the EU aims to encourage economic growth and tackle some of the demographic challenges facing the different EU regions.
Wondering how many people live in cities and urban areas near you? Find out with our Map of the week which shows the population in European cities in 2018. Click on a specific region to see the evolution of the population by age group and sex.
The data on this map are provided by EUROSTAT.