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GEO-3: GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT OUTLOOK  
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The changing population

Population (millions) by sub-region: Europe

Europe's population increased by 100 million since 1972 but fertility rates have now fallen to below replacement levels in many countries

Source: compiled from United Nations Population Division 2001

Europe's population has increased by 100 million since 1972 to a total of 818 million in 2000, or 13.5 per cent of the global population (see graphic). The most significant demographic change currently taking place in much of the region is the ageing of the population as a result of low fertility rates and increased life expectancy. Fertility rates have declined from 2.3 to 1.4 children per woman over the past 30 years and are as low as 1.1 in Armenia, Bulgaria and Latvia - well below the 2.1 children per woman required to keep population levels stable (United Nations Population Division 2001).

Another trend which is likely to continue, and which is an enormous challenge for the region, is that of population movements throughout Europe. These are related both to conflicts (asylum-seekers, displaced persons and refugees, including transit migration from developing countries) and to the search for more remunerative lifestyles (UNECE and others 1999, UNDP 1999b).