EU age structure: top 10 cities with the highest proportion of young population

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Population ageing is one of the most significant demographic and social trends of the 21st century. It is affecting almost all the countries in the world.

The age structure of a population has many important impacts on the overall society. It is crucial for the economic growth, but also for the cardinal services such as education and healthcare.

The demographic phenomenon which is taking place in the Old Continent, “Ageing of Europe”, is characterised by decrease in fertility and mortality rates, accompanied by a higher life expectancy, mostly thanks to remarkable progress in science and health care.

All these statistics are transforming the shape of the EU’s age pyramid. This means that the proportion of people of working age in the EU is shrinking while the relative number of those who are retired is expanding and will increase significantly in the coming decades, meaning that older people are more and more coming to represent social, economic and cultural challenges to individuals, public welfare systems and societies.

When comparing the life expectancy and the mortality of children under the age of 5 in 1950 and 2020 throughout Europe, large differences in numbers are being noticed.

According to Worldometer, in 1950, the life expectancy for both sexes combined in Europe was 63,7. In 2020, this number rose up to 79,1, which is an increase of almost 20%. Furthermore, the mortality of children under the age of 5 in 1950 per 1,000 live births was 93,38. In 2020, it was 4,18.

Between 2010 and 2060, it is projected that the proportion of people aged 65 or above will increase from 16% to 29%, which means in will almost double.

When talking about the most positive trends across the EU Member States, the highest shares of young people in the total population in 2020 are in Ireland (20.3%), France (17.9%) and Sweden (17.8%), says Eurostat.


What about the EU cities?


Taking into account large EU cities with over 500,000 inhabitants, the city with the highest proportion of young population aged 0-19 years in EU has Brussels (25,2%), says Eurostat for the year 2019. Although EU doesn’t have an official capital city, Brussels hosts a great number of principal EU institutions and provides a huge rate of employment. The Brussels region is home to 180 nationalities, with 108 different languages spoken. More than 55% of residents were not born Belgian, but relocated for work opportunities.

Brussels is followed by another Belgian city: Antwerp (24,7%), second largest European port city which is hugely dedicated to innovation development and overall business.

The third and fourth places are reserved for Dutch cities of Rotterdam (22,0%) and The Hague (21,9%). Rotterdam is the largest working port of Europe and is a lively and innovative city with a large number of multinational companies’ headquarters there, such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever. The Hauge’s  mission is to work towards creating a better, just and safe world. It is home to 31 European organisations and offers a great economic and business climate.

Naples greater city is the fifth and the last city with over 21% proportion of young population aged 0-19 years (21,6%). After Naples, there are the Lithuanian capital Vilnius (20,9%), two Spanish and two Portuguese cities. Sevilla is on the seventh place with 20,8% and is followed by Lisbon greater city (20,7%). The 9th and 10th places belong to Malaga (20,6%) and Lisbon city (20,6%).


Median age in the EU


The median age indicated the age “midpoint” of a population, meaning there is the same number of people who are older than the median age, as well as younger than it.

In 2015, the global average median age was 29.6 years – half of the world population were older than 29.6 years, and half were younger, states Our World in Data. Japan had the highest median age at 46.3 years. The youngest was Niger at 14.9 years. Overall, the higher-income countries have a higher median age.

According to Eurostat, the median age in the EU increased by 2.6 years between 2010 and 2020, rising from 41.3 years to 43.9 years,. It increased in almost all EU Member States, rising by 4.0 or more years in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Slovakia. Sweden is the only country with a decrease in the same 10-years period (from 40.7 years in 2010 to 40.5 years in 2020).

On EU large cities’ level (500,000+ inhabitants) for 2019, the lowest median population age was in Antwerp (37). It is followed by Vilnius (38) and Helsinki (38) and those are the only three EU cities under the median population age of 40 which participated in the Eurostat’s survey. On the fourth place is Sofia (40), followed by Riga and Budapest (41). From 6th – 10th place are all Spanish cities with the median population age of 43: Malaga, Barcelona, Sevilla and Madrid.


Eurostat’s predictions for the future


When talking about the period from 2020 to 2100, Eurostat projects an increase of the population to a peak number of 449.3 million around 2026 and thereafter gradually decline to 416.1 million by 2100. The EU’s population is projected to continue to age significantly.

In the next 80 years, the share of working age population is expected to decline, while the share older people is estimated to increase: those aged 65 years or over will account for 31.3 % of the EU’s population by 2100, compared with 20.6 % in 2020. The median age is expected to increase by 4.9 years, rising from 43.9 years in 2020 to 48.8 years in 2100. (photo credit: pch.vector/Freepik)