The 20 countries facing population collapse

Associated PressItaly’s population is projected to fall 10% in the next three decades.
  • A report from the Financial Times highlights new statistics that show Italy’s birthrate has collapsed well below the level needed to maintain a stable population.
  • Italy is just one of many countries that face serious demographic headwinds in the decades to come.
  • Low birth and immigration rates could lead to rapidly ageing and shrinking populations in these areas.
  • Using the UN’s population estimates, we found the 20 countries projected to have the largest per cent decline in population from 2020 to 2050.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A new report from the Financial Times says that Italy is facing a demographic crisis caused by low birth rates and decreased migration. But Italy is not alone in its struggles with a shrinking population.

According to the Financial Times, Italy’s birth rate has fallen to 1.32 children per women, far below the 2.1 children needed to maintain a stable population over time. The article cites experts arguing that young Italians lack confidence in the future economic direction of the country, and are forgoing childbirth out of concerns that they won’t be able to have the resources needed to raise kids.

Italy is just one of many countries struggling with a shrinking and ageing population. Japan is facing a “demographic time bomb” as young people in that country forgo having children.

The BBC recently highlighted attempts to slow Bulgaria’s population decline – the fastest in the world – by improving educational and economic opportunities in the country, making it more attractive for younger workers to stay rather than immigrating elsewhere in the European Union or to other countries.

And while the United States is projected to keep growing for the foreseeable future, Americans are waiting longer to have children, suggesting a gradually ageing population.

To get a sense of the demographic challenges confronting different parts of the world, we found the countries projected to have the most rapidly shrinking populations in the next few decades.

The United Nations regularly publishes demographic projections estimating how the world’s population could change over the next several decades. Using the UN’s middle-of-the-road estimates for fertility, mortality, and international migration, we found the 20 countries projected to have the largest per cent declines in population from 2020 to 2050.

For the purposes of our analysis, we excluded subregions or overseas territories of other countries, like the French territory of Wallis and Futuna, which is projected by the UN to have an 18.7% population loss over the next three decades.

Here are the fastest-shrinking countries in the world:


20. Italy: The population is projected to drop from 60.5 million in 2020 to 54.4 million in 2050, a 10.1% decline.

ROMAOSLO/Getty Images

19. Cuba: The population is projected to drop from 11.3 million in 2020 to 10.2 million in 2050, a 10.3% decline.

Reuters

18. North Macedonia: The population is projected to drop from 2.1 million in 2020 to 1.9 million in 2050, a 10.9% decline.

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17. Portugal: The population is projected to drop from 10.2 million in 2020 to 9.1 million in 2050, a 10.9% decline.


16. Georgia: The population is projected to drop from 4.0 million in 2020 to 3.5 million in 2050, an 11.8% decline.

Associated Press

15. Poland: The population is projected to drop from 37.8 million in 2020 to 33.3 million in 2050, a 12.0% decline.

Artur Bogacki/Getty Images

14. Hungary: The population is projected to drop from 9.7 million in 2020 to 8.5 million in 2050, a 12.3% decline.

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13. Estonia: The population is projected to drop from 1.3 million in 2020 to 1.2 million in 2050, a 12.7% decline.

REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

12. Greece: The population is projected to drop from 10.4 million in 2020 to 9.0 million in 2050, a 13.4% decline.

Reuters

11. Romania: The population is projected to drop from 19.2 million in 2020 to 16.3 million in 2050, a 15.5% decline.

Darko Bandic / Associated Press

10. Albania: The population is projected to drop from 2.9 million in 2020 to 2.4 million in 2050, a 15.8% decline.

Christian Wittmann/Shutterstock

9. Japan: The population is projected to drop from 126.5 million in 2020 to 105.8 million in 2050, a 16.3% decline.


8. Republic of Moldova: The population is projected to drop from 4.0 million in 2020 to 3.4 million in 2050, a 16.7% decline.


7. Croatia: The population is projected to drop from 4.1 million in 2020 to 3.4 million in 2050, an 18.0% decline.

Darko Vojinovic / Associated Press

6. Bosnia and Herzegovina: The population is projected to drop from 3.3 million in 2020 to 2.7 million in 2050, an 18.2% decline.

Reuters/Dado Ruvic

5. Serbia: The population is projected to drop from 8.7 million in 2020 to 7.1 million in 2050, an 18.9% decline.

Associated Press

4. Ukraine: The population is projected to drop from 43.7 million in 2020 to 35.2 million in 2050, a 19.5% decline.

SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

3. Latvia: The population is projected to drop from 1.9 million in 2020 to 1.5 million in 2050, a 21.6% decline.

Karolis Kavolelis/Shutterstock

2. Lithuania: The population is projected to drop from 2.7 million in 2020 to 2.1 million in 2050, a 22.1% decline.

Reuters

1. Bulgaria: The population is projected to drop from 6.9 million in 2020 to 5.4 million in 2050, a 22.5% decline.

Associated Press

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