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The ESPON 2013 Operational Programme
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Population development, 2000-2011

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Map
data source and more Map: ESPON Atlas; BBSR
Data sources: ESPON Database
 

  • Different types of population development are defined on the basis of different combinations of positive and negative net migratory flows and natural population developments.
  • Even though regions with different types of population development can be found across Europe, the general trend shows shrinking regions dominating in Central and Eastern Europe, and growing regions predominantly existing in Western Europe.
  • Immigration is a means to counterbalance negative natural population development. However, migration always affects both the development in the region of origin and the development in the region of destination.

Observations for policy

Regions facing population increase and regions facing population decrease reflect polarising trends at different scales, from urban-rural relations to the transnational level. In many cases, contrasted trends are observed in neighbouring regions which can result in regional polarisation and intensified challenges.

Urban and especially capital regions are hotspots of demographic development. Migration plays a key role for population growth in European cities whereas natural population development has a small impact on the increase of the population. Thus, in-migration counterbalances negative natural population development in many urban regions. Migratory flows are therefore of key importance for regional competitiveness and cohesion in Europe.

Policy context

Europe faces territorially differentiated demographic challenges. In the Territorial Agenda 2020, rural and peripheral areas are mentioned as regions that are affected by depopulation and ageing. This has major implications on public service delivery, the functioning of labour markets and on housing. However, regions with growing populations also face challenges, e.g. as the integration of in-migrants in the educational system and the labour market and the sufficient provision of housing. Therefore, policies pursuing social and territorial cohesion need to address demographic challenges in a territorially differentiated way.

In order to tackle these challenges, one of the Europe 2020 headline targets under the priority of inclusive growth is to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 20 million people by 2020. According to the Sixth Cohesion Report, the at-risk-of-poverty rate increased in 17 EU Member States between 2008 and 2012, and in all parts of Europe, the rates increased more in cities than in other areas. Thus, territorial differences have to be taken into account when fighting poverty. Yet, immigration also implies opportunities. One example is the integration of migrants in the labour market which can be a means to increase the employment rate to 75%, another headline target of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Map interpretation

The map shows the relation between migratory and natural population development and whether this results in population increase or population decrease. Six types can be differentiated:

Some regions show high population growth due to a combined positive migratory balance and positive natural population development. These regions are mainly located in the alpine space, Spain, in Southeast and Western France, the Benelux countries, Central and Southern UK, Ireland, parts of Scandinavia, and Southwest Finland but also in many islands like Cyprus, Malta, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, and outermost regions like the Acores, French Guyana, Madeira and R├ęunion.

  • Some regions were growing due to immigration and despite negative natural population development. This type concentrates in Italy, Southwest France, Central Spain, United Kingdom and in the Czech Republic, but can also be found in other parts of Europe.
  • Only a few regions grew despite a negative migration balance that was compensated by natural population development. These regions can be found in Northern France (including ├Äle-de-France), Iceland, some parts of Poland and Slovakia. Additionally, single regions in the UK, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Romania and FYROM show this type of population development.
  • For many regions population decrease results from both a negative migratory balance and negative natural population development. These regions are concentrated in Eastern and Central Germany, Southern Poland, the Baltic (except Estonia), peripheral regions with limited urban endowment in Finland and Sweden, and across Southeast Europe.
  • Some regionsÔÇÖ population was decreasing due to negative population development that could not be compensated by immigration. These regions can predominantly be found in the Portuguese hinterland, Northwest Spain, Central Sweden, Estonia, Greece and in Southeast Europe.
  • Only in a few regions, the population was shrinking due to a negative migratory balance that could not be compensated by a positive natural population development. Such regions are located in Northern Finland and Norway, Poland, Northern France, Southern Italy and in Romania.

At European level, one can see that regions affected by population increase and decrease, respectively, are unevenly distributed across Europe. However, a certain trend of East-West polarisation is visible, i.e. that regions with population growth are mainly located in Western Europe while regions with population decline are more dominant in Eastern Europe.

Capital regions in Europe are favourable hotspots of demographic development, mainly due to immigration. In several cases, they also experience significant natural increase. Particularly in Eastern Europe, capital regions stand out as growing regions that are surrounded by regions facing population decline. Urban regions of Northern France, including the Paris region, stand out due to their negative net migration figures, which are compensated by significant natural growth.

Concepts and methods

The map shows regions that registered population increase in brown and orange, while regions that registered population decrease are shown in blue. The time period considered is from 2000 to 2011. For each of these two categories, the map indicates whether the two key components of population development, migratory balance and natural population development, were positive or negative.

This way, the map allows for distinguishing between growing and shrinking regions and for specifying the contribution of migration, death and birth rates. The distinction results in six classes with different combinations of positive and negative migratory and natural balances.


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