Croatia's population is significantly decreasing amid a perfect storm of increasingly lower birth rates, rising mortality rates, and unprecedented emigration, an analysis of demographic trends conducted by the state statistics bureau for 2017 released on Tuesday indicates.
Compared to 2008, when the country's population was 4.3 million, ten years later, at the end of 2017, that number had decreased by 204,300 people and Croatia's population dropped to 4.1 million.
Meanwhile, the number of live births recorded has been decreasing since 1998, dropping below 40,000 in 2003 for the first time, and are continuing to decrease, with only 36,600 in 2017.
In 1990 the average age of women having their first child was 24.3 years of age, whereas in 2017 the average increased to 29. In the meantime, the average age of mothers having their first child in the European Union also increased to 30.6 years.
In addition, over the last twenty years, the highest number of deaths were recorded in 2015, while according to the latest data, nearly 53,500 people died in the country in 2017, or 3.8 percent compared to the year before. The most deaths that year were recorded in January, and that was the first time in the past 20 years that the number of people who died in a single month exceeded 6,000.
A negative natural population growth of more then 10,000 was first recorded in 2002, while 2017 saw the most negative natural population growth in the period observed.
Since Croatia joined the EU in 2013, the number of immigrants has varied between 10,400 in 2013 and 15,600 in 2017.
However, the number of people emigrating has increased noticeably more. Even though there was a growing trend in the period between 2011 and 2013, that number has increased significantly since joining the bloc. In 2014, the number of emigrants was 20,900 which is an increase of 36.7 percent compared to 2013.
In mid-2015, most EU member countries had lifted restrictions on Croatian workers and the number of emigrants increased by almost 10,000 that year. In 2016, the number continued to grow, and in 2017 was at a record high of 47,400, with most leaving to Germany.
As a result, Croatia's population has been shrinking since 2011, and in 2017 it lost nearly 31,800 people.