Czech population projected to fall by almost third within 90 years

Photo: Štěpánka Budková

A new demographic projection released on Tuesday makes for bracing reading. It suggests that the population of the Czech Republic will fall from today’s 10.5 million to in the region of 7.7 million by the year 2100. As the percentage of elderly people shoots up, the birth rate is set to fall markedly – a problem that demographers say cannot be solved by an influx of foreigners.

Photo: Štěpánka Budková
The new long-term population projection carried out by the Czech Statistics Office ought to give policy makers pause for thought.

The study says that the country’s population is most likely to fall from the current 10.5 million to around 7.7 million by the end of the century. The least optimistic scenario would see the number of inhabitants fall to as low as 6 million.

A key issue is the falling birth rate, a long-term trend. The average woman in this country currently gives birth to 1.4 babies in her lifetime – a figure that is projected to rise to 1.56.

While that may appear to be good news, it does not tell the whole story, says Professor Jitka Rychtaříková, one of the Czech Republic’s leading demographers.

Jitka Rychtaříková,  photo: archive of Radio Prague
“The absolute number of live births will decrease and will be at about 60,000 [a year]. That is less than today, when it is more than 100,000. But in, say, normal times it was about 130,000. So the biggest reason [for the fall] is a decrease in fertility.”

The age structure of the population is also set to change dramatically. Currently 16 percent of the Czech Republic’s inhabitants are aged 65 or older. That percentage is likely to double, meaning a full third of the population will be in that age category. People should live around a decade longer than they do today.

The number of people moving to the Czech Republic has increased in recent years. However, it seems that migrants from other states will not greatly alleviate the problems caused by the country’s worrying population trends.

“Migration is not a solution that would stop the population from aging, or, in the case of the Czech Republic, stop the decrease in the population size. Because you cannot have so many people coming here to balance the decrease in fertility or to moderate population aging.”

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
So, given the freshly released projection, is Professor Rychtaříková alarmed by the outlook for the Czech population?

“As a demographer I think that the problem, as I see it, is extremely long-lasting low fertility level. I think the problem is a not very much developed family policy and support for families – that’s the reason why fertility is so low. From my point of view, I’m scared by the low fertility.”