By Constantin Radut
In the context of the state of deep suffering determined, all over the world by SarsCov-2, we also have news that gives us a dose of optimism. The decline of Romania’s population is not as great a disaster as some or others inside and outside the country present it. Romania has chances to recover from a demographic point of view because it has healthy women, able to give birth to many children, and to restore the future of the country.
According to a Eurostat report for 2019, published today, entitled “EU births: decline continues, but not from foreign-born women”, the fertility rate of women in Romania was the second-highest in the EU, after that in France.
The Covid-19 pandemic has overshadowed many, many of the current or strategic problems of most states. Among these issues, demographics should have concerned both political administrators and researchers in the field.
In Romania, the demographic problem has been out of the sphere of interest of those who can support the decline that the country has known in this field for over 30 years for many years. Politicians in Bucharest are not able to understand the dimensions of the phenomenon. With a narrow PM in its projections of economic and social development, demography seems to be a segment in the orbit of other planets and even other states. Proof that currently in Romania there is no means of support and stimulation of young families that can support population growth. On the other hand, the almost 3 million Romanians who spend their lives outside the country’s borders are not stimulated at all to return to the country. Although, in the context of the Covid pandemic, the return of Romanians abroad would have been the best opportunity to reduce the number of Romanians “exiled” in various countries in Western Europe or overseas.
It is true that we do not have demographic policies but we do not have demographic specialists in Romania either. The Demographic Research Center subordinated to the National Institute of Economic Research is a phantom institution. It has no legal status, it does not have employed staff, it does not produce any study, any research that would be an impulse signal for those responsible in the field.
Therefore, in this gloomy context, Eurostat published today “EU births: decline continues, but not from foreign-born women”. A statistical summary of the fertility rate in the EU in 2019. The report is bleak and not at all encouraging. The community bloc is sinking into its own past.
“In 2019, 4.17 million babies were born in the European Union (EU), continuing a decreasing trend that started after 2008 when 4.68 million children were born in the EU.
The total fertility rate stood at 1.53 births per woman in the EU in 2019, a small decrease from its recent peak in 2016 (1.57), yet an increase compared to 2001 (1.43). The highest total fertility rate since the start of comparable time series was in 2008, 2010 and 2016 (1.57), in between it fluctuated between 1.51 and 1.57 ”.
The most edifying indicator on the demographic status of EU countries is the number of children born to a woman, ie the fertility rate per woman. In this sense, Romania surprisingly appears as the second most “productive” country in the EU, after France. The fertility rate of women able to have a child in Romania is 1.77 children/woman, in France it is 1.88. In 2019, other countries with high fertility rates were the Czech Republic, Ireland and Sweden (all three 1.71), and Denmark (1.70).
In contrast, the lowest fertility rates were observed in Malta (1.14 births per woman), Spain (1.23), Italy (1.27), Cyprus (1.33), Greece and Luxembourg (both 1.34).
Romania’s neighbors, generally Eastern Europe, are in a very serious situation. In Hungary, the fertility rate is 1.55, in Slovakia 1.57, in Bulgaria it is 1.58. The worst demographic is in Poland where the fertility rate is only 1.44.
The conclusion is an optimistic one for Romania. As long as women are healthy and eager to have children, the future of the nation is assured. The fertility rate of 1.77 is not high enough to ensure that the population of a country is maintained at a 1/1 scale.
Each time the fertility rate falls below about 2.1 then the population begins to decline. The “baby bust” phenomenon appears, currently specific in most developed countries.
The optimism we are talking about is based on the following reasoning: reducing emigration and attracting Romanians who are now going to foreign countries (most of them with fertile families) would ensure an unexpected balance in Romania’s demographic balance.
By Constantin Radut