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Future Demographic – Bulgaria Total population Chart 1 Age Structure of the Population at a Glance, Each Dot Represents a Single Age Group

Source: Euromonitor International from National Statistics

Chart 1 – known as a “heat chart” – depicts changes in the age structure in Bulgaria over time. Each dot represents the number of people in a specific age group in a given year. Accordingly, a dark red dot represents the largest concentration of people, by age, in a particular year while deep blue dots show the lowest concentrations. A single dark red dot is the equivalent of slightly more than 327,000 people while each deep blue dot represents just over 17,300 people and other colour shadings correspond to intermediate population totals (each by age group). Bulgaria was in the midst of a population surge in the late 1970s and early 1980s which is depicted by the area of bright red and orange descending downward from the upper left-hand corner. However, the number of children and young people is falling dramatically. Over time, the colour combinations in the upper part of the chart change to greens, light blues and, eventually, deep blue – an indication that the population of young people will continue to fall in the future. At the bottom of the chart is another area of blues and greens which refers to the population of older people. Moving from left to right, some of the deep blue in the lower part of the chart is replaced by lighter blues and greens. The transition suggests some increase in the number of older people after 2000 but the rise is a rather gentle one compared to the ageing process in many other countries. Bulgaria’s total population has been falling since the mid 1980s but the downward trend accelerated in the years after the Cold War. Between 1980 and 2020, the country will lose more than 1.9 million people – a decline of about 22% over the four decades. In this same period, the potential workforce (those between 15 and 64 years) will fall by more than 1.3 million or around 23%. Bulgarians over 60 years will be the only group whose numbers will rise during these 40 years and even these gains will be modest. Current and prospective demographic trends in Bulgaria are not favourable for the country’s economic prospects. The work force is ageing even while it shrinks. The higher proportion of older workers makes it more difficult to achieve the economic

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transformation that most Bulgarians seek; The labour market situation is becoming increasingly tight, with shortages developing in some industries. This is expected to lead to noticeably higher wage gains in the future. The situation is further complicated by the emigration of many college graduates and skilled workers and by low rates of productivity growth in the domestic economy; Patterns of consumption are changing rapidly as the economy is liberalised. Small local shops are being replaced by larger foreign retailers while domestic competitors rush to develop family-oriented retailing. An unexpected rise in the value of property poses a challenge to both groups; Remittances from as many as one million Bulgarians working abroad are estimated to be â‚Ź1 billion per year and help to drive consumption.

Chart 2 Population Age Shift 2000 and 2020, Each Column Represents a Single Age Group

Source: Euromonitor International from National Statistics

Chart 2 compares the country’s age structure in 2000 and 2020. The bright red area depicts a large decline in population during this two-decade period. With almost no exceptions, the population of each age group between 0 and 54 years will be greater in 2000 than the projected totals for 2020. Altogether, the number of those less than 55 years will fall by more than 1.3 million, a drop equivalent to 17% of total population in 2000. There will be a slight increase in the population of those 55 years and over but the differences are marginal. The youth dependency ratio (the number of people 0-14 years relative to the number aged 15-64) will fall from 0.234 in 2000 to 0.199 in 2020; The elderly dependency ratio (the number of people over 65 years relative to the number aged 15-64) will rise from 0.238 in 2000 to 0.328 in 2020; Bulgaria is in the midst of a demographic crisis with no end in sight. A host of policy measures are needed to boost rates of labour participation (especially among the elderly), eliminate the incentives for early retirement and gradually increase the official retirement age.

Chart 3 Population Pyramid

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Source: Euromonitor International from National Statistics

Demographic changes by sex are reported in Chart 3. For most countries, these figures resemble pyramids with a broad base and tapering sides which lead to an apex. That is not the case for Bulgaria. The base of each successive pyramid becomes progressively smaller reflecting a steady decline in the number of young people. By 2020, the base has narrowed to around 32,000 people of each sex and extends upward to about 25 years of age. There is also a relative bulge between the ages of 30 and 70 with the population falling off sharply among those over this age. In 2020, there will be over 1.1 million females of at least 60 years of age compared with 830,800 males. This difference is attributed to the generally longer life expectancy of females. Significantly however, the actual number of older people will increase very little over time. For example, the number of females over 60 years will rise by just 155,910 between 2000 and 2020 while the number of males increases by 75,120. Bulgaria’s population is ageing only in a relative sense owing to the immigration of young and middle-aged people and a drop in the number of young people. The figures in Table 1 show a long-term decline in the population of all ages less than 60. The number of children between 0 and 10 years was slowly falling in the 1980s and dropped very sharply in the 1990s. It stabilised during the present decade but will resume its decline in 2010-2020. The population of those between 10 and 19 years peaked in 1988 and then began a long-term decline that will continue throughout most of the next decade. Similar trends apply to all age groups between 20 and 45 years. Among those age groups between 45 and 64 years a maximum was reached during the1980s. Afterwards, the numbers began to drop but an upturn is reported (or projected) in later years. The population of the elderly (65 and over) is generally rising over time, albeit with minor fluctuations. Bulgaria’s fertility rate dropped below replacement level in 1981 and today is one of the lowest in the world – (1.33 children born per female in 2008). It will rise only marginally between now and 2020 when it is expected to be around 1.5 births per female; There are many reasons for such a low fertility rate involving a combination of economic, social and political factors and demographers have yet to agree on their relative significance. One clear contributor is a steep drop in the number of women of childbearing age (15-49 years). The population of this particular group will decline from 2.1 million in 1980 to 1.5 million in 2020. A related factor is the immigration of many women of childbearing age following the end of the Cold War. Rates of immigration are expected to slow in the future but the emigration of women of childbearing age will continue. Other likely determinants are discussed below;

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Bulgaria’s life expectancy shows a slight rise since 1990. In 2007, life expectancy at birth was 76.5 years for females while for males it was 69.9 years. Government officials view these indicators as too low but have yet to assemble an effective set of policies to address the situation. Smoking, a lack of exercise, alcohol consumption and a generally unhealthy lifestyle appear to be the main reasons for this.

Table 1 Key Population Trends 1980-2020 ‘000

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2020

CAGR %

Period Growth

Total

8,835

8,954

8,767

8,303

7,978

7,728

7,467

7,191

6,885

-0.62

-22.07

Male

4,404

4,448

4,324

4,069

3,888

3,752

3,616

3,481

3,337

-0.69

-24.22

Female

4,432

4,506

4,444

4,234

4,091

3,976

3,851

3,710

3,548

-0.55

-19.93

0-4 yrs

688

608

569

429

331

333

331

311

276

-2.25

-59.82

5-9 yrs

651

685

577

520

423

319

330

323

300

-1.92

-53.92

10-14 yrs

619

649

655

557

513

417

316

327

321

-1.63

-48.17

15-19 yrs

625

617

634

621

549

518

411

311

319

-1.67

-48.92

20-24 yrs

633

622

573

592

612

540

504

395

293

-1.90

-53.64

25-29 yrs

658

630

585

544

582

581

526

483

372

-1.42

-43.47

30-34 yrs

658

654

608

550

535

559

573

516

471

-0.83

-28.46

35-39 yrs

556

652

631

570

539

523

553

566

509

-0.22

-8.50

40-44 yrs

562

549

630

596

556

530

515

544

556

-0.03

-1.15

45-49 yrs

628

551

527

595

576

545

518

504

531

-0.42

-15.46

50-54 yrs

613

610

525

492

568

556

527

503

489

-0.56

-20.17

55-59 yrs

578

583

575

483

462

546

532

507

486

-0.43

-15.95

60-64 yrs

328

536

543

520

441

436

512

503

484

0.98

47.60

65-69 yrs

397

288

479

467

458

401

394

468

464

0.39

16.84

70-74 yrs

310

327

235

386

383

391

341

342

413

0.72

33.08

75-79 yrs

198

222

235

168

279

292

299

268

275

0.82

38.89

80+ yrs

133

172

187

212

170

241

285

321

326

2.26

144.67

34

35

36

38

39

41

42

43

45

0.71

32.70

Median age

Source: Euromonitor International from National Statistics

© Copyright and database right Euromonitor

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Demographic statistics Bulgaria 2010  

Demographic statistics Bulgaria 2010

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