Norway growing rapidly older

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Norway’s population is quickly getting older, and in just 10 years there will be more people aged 65 and up than children and teenagers in the country, according to a new study. Lower population growth is also expected to set in by 2030.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, shown here visiting a Norwegian nursing home last year, actually called on young Norwegians to produce more babies in a recent New Year’s address. Her predecessor, Jens Stoltenberg of the Labour Party, urged the same, as officials remain worried about the future of the welfare state in a country with more elderly than young citizens. PHOTO: Statsministerens kontor

The predictions come in a new study by state statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway). Astri Syse, a senior researcher at SSB, links the lower population growth to a decline in immigration that’s expected to continue over the next decade.

Syse and her colleagues call the looming age demographics an “historic shift” that will leave Norway with more elderly citizens than young ones aged up to 19. The Corona pandemic won’t increase overall mortality rates, Syse said, but it is expected to reduce fertility rates and immigration, at least in the short term.

“Clear signs of ageing, lower population growth and more elderly immigrants are trends that will characterize population development in Norway from now on,” Syse stated in the new report.

Much of the recent growth in Norway’s population (set by SSB at 5,372,355 as of Thursday) has been fueled by immigration. SSB refers to “unusually high net immigration” in its report, while the surplus of births over deaths has amounted to around 15,000 annually.

Both are expected to contribute “fairly evenly” to population growth up to 2040, when the so-called “birth surplus” is due to decline. The post-World War II baby boom generation will have died out, and by 2050 Norway will likely have more deaths than births. Immigration will then be the sole generator of population growth.

There currently are around 790,000 immigrants in Norway, a number expected to rise to around 1.1 million by 2060. Many will also be older, with around 25 percent aged 70 or older.

Total population in 2060 is estimated to amount to 6.1 million, and 6.3 million by the turn of the next century. That’s much lower than what SSB had predicted just four years ago when it was estimated to be 7 million. The decline is linked in developments within fertility, life expectancy and immigration.

For more details and graphs, click to SSB’s report here (external link to SSB’s website).

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund