Czech population declines as strong 1970s generation ages

Photo: Štěpánka Budková

For the first time in a decade, the Czech Republic’s population declined last year. Newly released officials figures show that a total of 10,512,400 people lived in the country in 2013, some 3,700 fewer than in the previous year. The slight decline has been attributed to fewer births – but also a fall in fresh immigrants and a rise in the number of people leaving the country. I discussed the statistics with demographer Tomáš Kučera from Prague’s Charles University.

Photo: Štěpánka Budková
“I’d say it’s a trend of population development with a decreasing number of live births and an increasing number of deaths in our population. What’s very surprising, however, is the migration balance. The net migration, for the first time in more than ten years, is negative.

“The explanation probably is that it reflects the state of our economy. If you look at the details about who is leaving the country, these are mainly people from Ukraine, Vietnam, Moldova, and so on, who are long-term but not permanent residents and who came to work in the Czech Republic.”

But it’s also Czechs who are leaving; some 2,000 people left the country last year. Is that something we’ll be seeing in greater numbers in the coming years?

“I think that has always been happening but was not highlighted because our net migration was positive. I think the country has been losing people over the last decade, with more Czechs leaving than coming back.”

When we look at the main reason behind the slight drop in the country’s population – why are fewer and fewer children born?

“The main reason is the decline in the number of potential mothers. The strong generations born in the 1970s and 80s are leaving the scene, particularly the so-called Husák’s children of the 1970s.

Photo illustrative: Kristýna Maková,  Radio Prague International
“They are leaving what I call the reproductive market, and are replaced by much less numerous generations of women born in the 1990s and in effect, we have fewer potential mothers.

“Fertility rates are the same with slight growth tendencies but the decrease in the number of potential mothers is and will be in the future much stronger than the increase in fertility. As a result, we expect a substantially lower numbers of births in future years.”