The negative difference between the number of people being born and dying is the largest in the last seventy years.
According to the provisional data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2017 there were 17,614 more deaths in Croatia than live births, which is the largest natural decline in the period after the end of World War II, reports Index.hr on February 17, 2018.
For the first time, less than 37,000 children were born alive. The number was 36,467, and it is expected to further decrease in the next few months since it currently includes children born in Croatia whose mothers do not have a registered residency in Croatia, which is a requirement for someone to be officially counted to be born in Croatia. On the other hand, the temporary number of deaths is highest since 1991.
According to demographer Nenad Pokos, the previous most substantial natural decline of 16,702 inhabitants was recorded in 2015, while in 2016 Croatia lost 14,005 inhabitants.
The number of live births has been reduced by as much as 13% in just ten years. In 2007, there were 41,910 live births. Compared to 1987, the number of live births has been reduced by more than a quarter (26.4%) and compared to 1977 by 42.4%. “A larger natural decline than this in Croatia was recorded just in 1945, but it will now grow even further. There are fewer women in the fertile age, and the number of live births will decrease even more,” said Pokos.
However, the disastrous natural decrease is just a part of the reason why the number of inhabitants of Croatia is declining rapidly. The second is the mass exodus from Croatia. “This is now the fourth wave of emigration from Croatia since the Second World War. We had the first immediately after the World War II, the second in the late 1960s and early 70s, the third in the early 1990s, and now we have this wave. I cannot even imagine what will happen in twenty years,” Pokos said, adding that the number of Croatians who have moved abroad is significantly higher than what the official figures show.
“The official figure is that, in 2016, 1,500 people left for Ireland. However, the Irish government issued 5,000 personal registration numbers to Croatian citizens. We do not know the exact number, but the figures are much larger than what has been officially reported in Croatia. In Germany, the number of citizens with Croatian citizenship has increased by 30,000 since 2016. The estimate is that a quarter of that number are residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatian citizenship, so the approximate number of people from Croatia who left for Germany in just one year is around 22,500. This is exactly equal to the official negative migration balance in Croatia for 2016, which is supposed to include all countries, not just Germany, so we can conclude that the real situation is much worse than what the official figures present,” he said.
“It is tough to forecast how many inhabitants Croatia will have in 10 or 20 years since no one knows what can happen in a few years. If there is another economic crisis, some of the emigrants could return if the crisis hits Ireland or Germany, but there could also be even stronger emigration,” said Pokos.
According to the official figures, more than 36,500 people left Croatia in 2016. However, Pokos believes that the actual number is approximately 55,000 people. At the same time, about 14,000 immigrants moved into Croatia, which means that, in 2016, Croatia lost about 41,000 people.
If the number in 2017 remains about the same, and if we take into account that there were more than 17,000 more deaths than live births, Croatia lost more than 58,000 people just last year.
Translated from Index.hr (reported by D. Tomšić).