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Countries with Declining Population 2024


  • Eastern Europe experiences the most significant population decline, largely due to emigration, with Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Latvia facing over 20% reductions by 2050.

  • Japan's anticipated 16.3% population decrease by 2050 highlights a global trend, with low fertility rates and aging populations contributing significantly.

  • Efforts to address population decline focus on boosting birth rates and attracting emigrants back, as seen in countries like Portugal and Hungary.

Population decline, also known as depopulation, is a reduction over time in the number of individuals living in any particular country, town, or other geographic area. Population decline can be caused by one or a combination of many possible trends, including aging, emigration, birth rates and/or fertility rates below the population's replacement rate, high infant mortality rates due to underdeveloped health care systems, and high death rates due to war and violence, disease, or other catastrophes.

Population decline has both positive and negative impacts on a nation. A shrinking population can mean more resources can be allocated to the population and per capita wealth could increase. Additionally, a declining population alleviates the problems associated with overpopulation in areas affected by it, such as increased pollution, traffic, real estate and rent prices, and environmental degradation. However, population decline can also lead to an aging population and a shrinking workforce—especially in terms of highly-educated, high-skilled workers. These shortages can cause an overall reduction in quality of life, government-funded programs, and national GDP.

Due to varying demographic challenges around the world, many countries are facing shrinking populations. The United Nations regularly publishes demographic projections of metrics including fertility, mortality, and international migration. These projections enable analysts at Business Insider and other outlets to determine the 20 countries projected to have the largest percentage population declines over the next three decades (2020-2050). By far the greatest area of population decline in the world is Eastern Europe, where many countries are losing large portions of their population to emigration.

Top 20 Countries with the Fastest Population Decline 2020-2050 (United Nations 2019)

Rate of Decline
Bosnia and Herzegovina18.2%
North Macedonia10.9%

1. Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s population is expected to decline by 22.5% from 6.9 million in 2020 to 5.4 million in 2050. Mass outbound migration is the largest contributor towards Bulgaria’s population decline.

2. Lithuania

The Lithuanian population is projected to shrink by 22.1% over the next three decades. The population is expected to shrink from 2.7 million to 2.1 million people. Like Bulgaria, Lithuania’s largest population loss is due to mass migration.

3. Latvia

Latvia is expecting a 21.6% population loss between 2020 and 2050. Latvia has lost about one-fifth of its population since joining the European Union in May 2004. Latvia’s population loss is caused by economic migration and low birth rates.

4. Ukraine

Ukraine’s population is projected to drop from 43.7 million in 2020 to 35.2 million in 2050, a 19.5% loss. High emigration rates coupled with high death rates and low birth rates are to blame for Ukraine’s population loss. The country’s birth rate is 9.2 births per 1,000 people and its death rate is 15.2 deaths per 1,000 people.

5. Serbia

The Serbian population is expected to decline from 8.7 million to 7.1 million over the next 30 years. This is a decline of about 18.9%. Many of Serbia’s highly educated and skilled workers have left the country to find better job opportunities since there are very few in Serbia. The high migration rates are coupled with low fertility rates.

6. Bosnia and Herzegovina

The population is projected to decline by 18.2%, shrinking from 3.3 million in 2020 to 2.7 million in 2050. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s fertility rate is well below the population replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman at 1.26 births per woman.

7. Croatia

Croatia’s population is expected to shrink by 18.0%. The population is projected to drop from 4.1 million to 3.4 million over the next 30 years. The population reached its peak in 1991 at 4.78 million but has been declining since because of low birth rates and an aging population.

8. Moldova

Moldova’s population will decline by 16.7% from 2020 to 2050. The population is expected to fall by 600,000 from 4 million to 3.4 million. Poverty and corruption in Moldova have pushed the highly-skilled, young workers away from the country and the aging population has been plagued by poor living standards and high mortality rates.

9. Japan

Japan’s population is projected to lose 20.7 million people between 2020 and 2050. The population is expected to shrink from 126.5 million to 105.8 million, a 16.3% decline. Japan’s population has been falling since 2011 due to very low fertility rates (1.42 births per woman) and an aging population.

10. Albania

The Albanian population is expected to decrease by 15.8% over the next 30 years, falling from 2.9 million people to 2.4 million people. It is estimated that over 38% of the Albanian population lives abroad.

11. Romania

Romania’s population is projected to decline by 15.5% from 2020 to 2050. The population will reduce from 19.2 million to 16.3 million over the next three decades. Between 2007 and 2015, about 3.5 million Romanians have gone abroad to escape poverty and widespread corruption.

12. Greece

The population of Greece is expected to shrink from 10.4 million to 9.0 million, a loss of more than 13.4%, over the next 30 years. Greece’s population began declining in 2011 when the first negative birth rate was recorded. Greece’s population could decline up to 50% over the next 50 years if nothing is done to combat it.

13. Estonia

Estonia’s population of 1.3 million is projected to decline by 12.7% to 1.2 million by 2050. Compared to other Baltic states, Estonia’s population decline has been relatively slow and stable. Immigration has delayed a quicker population decline in recent years.

14. Hungary

Hungary’s population is projected to drop from 9.7 million in 2020 to 8.5 million in 2050. This is a population decline of about 12.3%. Hungary’s population has fallen by about over 40,000 per year and shows no signs of slowing down. Policies Hungary to help slow the population decline are focused on boosting birthrates.

15. Poland

Poland’s population is predicted to drop by 12.0%. Over the next 30 years, the population will drop from 37.8 million to 33.3 million people. Low birth rates and continued emigration are the two main reasons for Poland’s population decline.

16. Georgia

The population is expected to decline by 11.8%, shrinking from 4.0 million to 3.5 million from 2020 to 2050. The decline in Georgia’s population is caused by the emigration in search of better jobs in other countries.

17. Portugal

The Portuguese population is projected to decline from 10.2 million to 9.1 million over the next three decades, a 10.9% decline. Portugal has made attempts to lure back those who emigrated, whether or not they are highly paid or highly skilled.

18. North Macedonia

North Macedonia’s population is expected to drop by 10.9%, shrinking from 2.1 million to 1.9 million from 2020 to 2050. North Macedonia’s population has fallen by 24.6% since its independence in 1991.

19. Cuba

Cuba’s population of 11.3 million is expected to shrink to 10.2 million by 2050, a 10.3% decline. The young people leaving the country and low birth rates are resulting in an increasingly aging population. Cuba’s population is expected to be the ninth-oldest in the world by 2050.

20. Italy

Italy’s population is projected to shrinking by 10.1% from 2020 to 2050. The current population of 60.5 million people will reduce to 54.4 million over the next 30 years. Births are at an all-time low since the unification of Italy and young people are leaving Italy to other European countries for job opportunities.

Download Table Data

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Rate of Decline
2020 Pop
2050 Pop
Bulgaria22.5%6.9 million5.4 million
Lithuania22.1%2.7 million2.1 million
Latvia21.6%1.9 million1.5 million
Ukraine19.5%43.7 million35.2 million
Serbia18.9%8.7 million7.1 million
Bosnia and Herzegovina18.2%3.3 million2.7 million
Croatia18%4.1 million3.4 million
Moldova16.7%4 million3.4 million
Japan16.3%126.5 million105.8 million
Albania15.8%2.9 million2.4 million
Romania15.5%19.2 million16.3 million
Greece13.4%10.4 million9.0 million
Estonia12.7%1.3 million1.2 million
Hungary12.3%9.7 million8.5 million
Poland12%37.8 million33.3 million
Georgia11.8%4.0 million3.5 million
Portugal10.9%10.2 million9.1 million
North Macedonia10.9%2.1 million1.9 million
Cuba10.3%11.3 million10.2 million
Italy10.1%60.5 million54.4 million

Which countries have declining populations?

The countries in the world with declining populations are as follows: Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova, Japan, Albania, Romania, Greece, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Georgia, Portugal, North Macedonia, Cuba, and Italy.

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