This article forms part of Eurostat’s annual flagship publication, the Eurostat regional yearbook.
There are considerable differences in regional demographic patterns across the European Union (EU) from overcrowded, dynamic, metropolises which may have relatively youthful populations to more remote, rural regions that may have declining population numbers and poor access to a range of services.
Net migration (including statistical adjustment) was broadly balanced in the EU-28 during the period from the 1960s to the 1980s, with both positive and negative changes; as such, the impact of net migration on the overall changes in population numbers during this period was relatively weak.
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After falling by 282 thousand inhabitants in 2011 (which may be attributed to the revision of population statistics for Germany following the 2011 census), the upward pattern of population growth resumed and by 2015 there were 509.4 million inhabitants living in the EU-28 (see Figure 1).
The average population of the EU-28 rose by 97.7 million inhabitants between 19, equivalent to an average increase of 0.4 % per annum.
Life expectancy in the EU ranged from a high of 84.5 years in the Spanish capital region down to 73.5 regions in the north-western Bulgarian region of Severozapaden — a difference of 11 years Map 1 presents life expectancy at birth for NUTS level 2 regions, detailing the average (mean) number of years that a new born child could expect to live if subjected throughout his/her life to current mortality conditions.
In 2015, there were 21 NUTS level 2 regions where life expectancy at birth was 83 years or more (as shown by the darkest shade of yellow in Map 1); these were principally located in a band that ran from central through northern Spain (eight regions), into southern France (three regions) and across to northern and central regions of Italy (also eight regions).
Some of the peaks for net migration that are visible in Figure 1 may be associated with a range of international migration and refugee crises and resulting displaced persons, for example, former Yugoslavia during the 1990s, Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s, or Syria more recently.
While natural population change was responsible for most of the population change in the EU during the 1960s and 1970s, this pattern slowly diminished as the difference between the number of births and deaths gradually narrowed.As such, the difference in life expectancy between Severozapaden and Comunidad de Madrid was 11 years.The largest gender gap for life expectancy was recorded in Lithuania — life expectancy was 10.5 years higher for women than for men It is important to note that while Map 1 presents information for the whole population, there remain considerable differences in life expectancy between the sexes — despite evidence showing that this gender gap has been gradually closing in most of the EU Member States.The only two exceptions located outside of this band were the capital city regions, Île de France (France) and Inner London - West (the United Kingdom).The highest life expectancy in the EU-28 among NUTS level 2 regions was recorded in another capital city region, namely, Comunidad de Madrid (84.5 years), the Spanish capital city region.At the other end of the range, there were 42 NUTS level 2 regions where average life expectancy in 2015 was less than 78 years (as shown by the lightest shade of yellow in Map 1).