woensdag 28 augustus 2013

Predicting population growth

In my earlier blog, I've suggested that population growth can be predicted to a certain extend by previous years unemployment figures. In the Netherlands, according to this relative simple model, the population is predicted to decrease next year:

Just to give this simple and rather bold model some credibility, I have collected some data of some other European countries.


According to this model, Italian population is to decline from an unemployment level of 11,5%. Currently Italian unemployment is about 12,1% sufficient to have a negative population growth, similar to the Netherlands.


In Spain, the threshold for a shrinking population appears to be 25% unemployment, which was surpassed in 2011, and indeed last year (2012), the population in Spain shrunk. The number was spot on the (predicted) fitted line.... For 2013 I again expect shrinkage of the number of Spanish inhabitants, since unemployment is currently at 26,3%.


In Greece, a linear model was difficult to fit before 2010, but here a threshold appears to be around an unemployment rate of about 15%. Last two years, indeed, the population in Greece diminished. It is likely that the number of inhabitants of Greece will again diminish in 2013.  

From this late afternoon comparison with other countries, it appears that the prediction of a shrinking Dutch population is not all that bold.....  Most Dutch people have not yet realized how the world, also in our country is changing.

The figures on which the graphs are based, are from the years 1995 onward, for as far as I could retrieve them from the web.

[1]  Spanish Statistical Office: http://www.ine.es/prensa/np788.pdf

[2] Wikipedia, demographics of Spain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Spain

[3] Unemployment figures of Spain: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/spain/unemployment-rate

[4] Population growth figures: http://www.gapminder.org/data/

[5] Unemployment figures of Greece: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/greece/unemployment-rate

[6] Demographics of Italy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Italy

maandag 26 augustus 2013

Will the population in the Netherlands shrink next year?

Population growth 

The Dutch population growth recently has become strongly correlated to the economic situation of the Netherlands. If we plot for instance the unemployment ratio to the population growth rate of the consequent year starting from the year 2000, the following figure emerges [1,2,4].

The worse the economy is, the lower the growth rate of the population. It is obvious that both migration and birth rates are effected by the economic situation. People tend to move away from downturn economies to more prosperous places. Young families are more likely to have children when they can be afforded, than when unemployment of any of the parents threatens.

From the fitted line model it may be concluded that when the Dutch unemployment surpasses about 8%, the following year a negative growth of the population emerges. Since the unemployment has reached 8,7% in August this year (2013), and since it is still rising, it may be well possible, that in 2014 the total population in the Netherlands will shrink. A shrinking population has not occurred in the Netherlands ever since the year 1848 [2,3].

Predictions of the CBS, the Dutch Statistical Authority are quite different. The CBS expects first shrinkage only after the year 2030.

Let us see what happens next year, I can't wait....


[1]     CBS Figures on population: http://statline.cbs.nl/StatWeb/publication/?VW=T&DM=SLNL&PA=37943ned&LA=NL (the population growth in 2013 is estimated on doubling first half year growth figure)

[2]     111 Jaar statistiek in tijdreeksen, 1899–2010:

[3]  Tweehonderd jaar statistiek in tijdreeksen 1800-1999:  http://www.cbs.nl/NR/rdonlyres/7934A2DE-B87C-4CDF-8BC7-D34F02225620/0/200jaarstattijdreeksen.pdf

[4] Beroepsbevolking; vanaf 1800: http://statline.cbs.nl/StatWeb/publication/?VW=T&DM=SLNL&PA=71882ned&LA=NL