MADRID – By 2050, the average age in Europe will have risen to 49.1 years; an increase of 4 years compared to 2019. The number of elderly people will therefore increase significantly in the coming decades. Spain will have 4 of the top 10 oldest regions in Europe.
Eurostat, the European statistical office, predicts in three decades, 4 of the 10 oldest regions in Europe will be Spanish provinces: Zamora, León, Asturias and Ourense.
According to Eurostat, Zamora leads the list with an average age of 62.7 years. León is in fourth place (60.5 years) and Asturias and Ourense (both at 59.1 years) are ninth and tenth respectively. Over this 30-year period, the European population aged 65 or older, in the 31 countries surveyed (EU and Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland), is expected to increase by more than 40 million people: from 93 million to 134.5 million.
“There is a demographic ‘perfect storm'”
The study shows that, particularly in certain regions of eastern and southern Europe, the population is aging fastest. Leading the way is the Spanish province of Zamora. There, the average age will rise by no less than ten years, from 52.4 in 2019 to 62.7 in 2050.
Albert Esteve, director of the Center for Demographic Studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, argues Zamora has “a demographic perfect storm”. “The population is already aging there, few young people live there, few children are being born and it is an area that does not attract many immigrants,” he explains.
In contrast, Melilla “has a high fertility ate and high levels of immigration”. This regions is projected to be the third region with the lowest average age (36.6 years) by 2050.
Emptying of the Spanish interior
It is not only long-term low birth rates and higher life expectancy that are causing an aging population in Europe. According to Diego Ramiro, director of the Institute of Economics, Geography and Demography of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), in recent years many Spanish regions have faced the departure of mainly young people towards the big cities. As a result, the average age increases in the regions they leave behind.
“The areas around Madrid, Barcelona and the coastal area are growing to the detriment of Castile and Leon or Galicia,” he explains. The interior of Spain is bleeding to death. A trail of young people has been moving to regions with better job opportunities for years. “And if we look at Eurostat’s forecasts, this will not change for the time being”.