EPRS Admin By / June 3, 2022

EU-27 population pyramids for 2001 and 2019

EU-27 population pyramids for 2001 and 2019 (number of women and men by age group)

EU-27 population pyramids for 2001 and 2019 (number of women and men by age group)

When comparing the population pyramids of 2001 and 2020, it can be seen that the pyramid, already rather narrowing at the bottom (meaning fewer people in the younger age groups), becomes even more mushroom-shaped, with the top parts of the pyramid (older age groups) being broader, due in part to people living longer on average than previously, while the lower parts reflect decreasing fertility rates. However, the similar size of the bottom two age bands shows that this trend has stabilised in recent years.
The impact of higher past fertility rates is also seen clearly in the chart, in the bulge caused by the so-called ‘Baby Boomer’ generation and the following generation, often called ‘Generation X’ (those born between 1965 and 1980). The Baby Boomer cohort stems from high fertility rates in a number of EU countries in the years following World War II. ‘Generation X’ are mostly the children of the Baby Boomers. Subsequent declines in fertility rates meant fewer children joining the bottom of the pyramid after the Baby Boomer and ‘Generation X’ cohorts. Those two cohorts therefore formed a population bulge that moved up the pyramid as they aged. As these outsized cohorts are reaching, or will soon reach, retirement age, they are expanding the numbers in the older age groups, skewing the age structure of the EU population towards an older Europe.
The prevalence of women is characteristic in older age groups, reflecting their greater longevity (on average) than men. This gender disparity in life expectancy has narrowed somewhat, but it is currently expected to continue, with the EU-27 average life expectancy at birth in 2019 estimated at 84 years for women, compared to only 78.5 years for men. This is an increase of 0.3 years for both sexes from 2019 to 2020.

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