Declining birth rate in Europe

Addressing the demographic emergency

Recommended citation

Marchais I. 2022. “Declining birth rate in Europe. Addressing the demographic emergency“, Policy brief, Paris: Jacques Delors Institut , July.


The “Old Continent” is much more than a mere expression. The European Union (EU) is faced with a serious challenge: by 2100, its population will decrease by almost 7% compared with 2019, the equivalent of -31 million people. After years of steady increases, the population will peak at 449 million in 2026 before gradually declining to approximately 441 million in 2050, followed by 416 million at the turn of the century, with the exclusion of enlargement.

The “demographic winter” rued by Pope Francis, to name but one, is mainly owing to the fact that the “baby boomer” generation of the 1950s and 60s are no longer of childbearing age. On top of that, considerably fewer generations are following their example in the age range and younger women average fewer children than their mothers.

All EU Member States are affected by this development, albeit to varying degrees, and are making efforts to develop or strengthen their family policies. Despite the EU’s lack of dedicated expertise in this area, it is leveraging drivers such as encouraging a healthy work-life balance and promoting equal opportunities between men and women.

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