By the end of the century, Croatia could lose as many as 1.67 million people.
In 33 years, in 2050, Croatia will have 728,000 fewer inhabitants than now, while the number of inhabitants of Croatia could be reduced by as much as 1.67 million by the end of the century. These alarming forecasts have been published by the United Nations, which provides estimates of population trends in the world, reports Jutarnji List on June 26, 2017.
According to UN data, Croatia now has 4,189,000 inhabitants. Demographic projections by UN experts show that the number of inhabitants will decrease to 3,896,000 by 2030, and to 3,461,000 by the middle of the century. This means that the population will be reduced by 17.4 percent compared to this year.
Croatia is one of the European countries which are threatened by the demographic collapse. Reduction in the number of inhabitants by 2050 represents a threat to 51 countries, but only ten of them face declines higher than 15 percent. In addition to Croatia, these are Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine, as well as the US Virgin Islands.
The forecast for the end of the century is even glummer. UN projections show that in 2100 Croatia could have only 2,518,000 inhabitants, or almost 40 percent fewer people than now.
“Unfortunately, that is our reality. UN projections should be understood as a warning that it is the last moment to develop proper demographic policies which we do not have today”, said demographer Anđelko Akrap. He added that the UN projections might even be more favourable than the actual situation. According to Akrap, Croatia currently does not have 4.2 million people, as estimated by the UN report, but about 4.050.000 inhabitants. The age structure is another reason to worry since there are too many old people and fewer younger individuals who can work.
Negative demographic trends, further boosted by the ever-growing emigration, are a sign of alarm. Economists warn that they will have adverse consequences on the economy as a whole, and in particular on the sustainability of the pension and healthcare system. “Long-term effects are even worse. In addition to the shortage of labour, which will lead to higher wage growth than productivity and decline in competitiveness, the effects of shrinking population will be lower savings as well as lower spending. All of this could ultimately lead to smaller investments and exports, and slower economic growth,” said Zdeslav Šantić, a macroeconomist with Splitska Banka.
Šantić sees a solution in creating demographic measures that will encourage people to stay here, and in greater labour market flexibility, which will enable faster and easier employment, especially of young people. Another solution is the import of labour force, which must happen sooner or later. “Negative demographic trends already limit the recovery of the economy. Lack of workforce is felt in a number of activities, especially in construction and tourism,” concluded Šantić.