World Facts

Countries With The Biggest Population Decline

Population is declining in select countries. Further examination reveals why some countries are becoming smaller and smaller.

The United Nations recently released a report projecting the world’s population to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, before peaking at 11.2 billion by 2100. As many people are stunned by these figures, neglect that some countries are in fact rapidly losing population at the same time. Just as a rapid increase in population causes concerns related to the gradual running out of natural resources (food, housing, jobs and physical space, etc.), sudden declines in population raise concerns as well in regards to a country’s economic stability, communal harmony and global identity.

According to the latest findings, Syria tops the list of the world’s fastest shrinking countries, with the Cook Islands and Moldova in distant second and third place slots, respectively. Declining populations are often attributed to a combination of social, cultural, political and economic factors, all of which we will explore below.

Increased Education, Decreased Birth Rates

Education is one of the leading factors contributing to declining birth rates in certain countries. Over time, not only have more educated women set different priorities for themselves, but society has stopped imposing many of the expectations common in the past as well. With women being emancipated and given greater access to job opportunities, they are now more likely to marry at a later age and bear fewer children than would women of the past. Also, we cannot negate the exponential growth in an average person’s standard of living, which happened to be a lot more affordable in the past than it is today. The expenses of everyday life automatically translate into increased costs of raising children, both increasing by leaps and bounds relative to earlier generations.

Lack of Opportunity Drives Increased Emigration

In many places, concurrent availability to quality education and lack of rewarding job opportunities will prompt young members of the workforce of a country to emigrate to places where they believe they will find better jobs and be able to live out more fulfilling lives. Additionally, when the economy and infrastructure of a country are not sufficient to meet personal needs, its people are bound to seek these securities elsewhere instead of suffer within their own homelands.

Political Unrest & War

When a country witnesses political unrest or a civil war, its citizens feel increasingly threatened and become more likely to flee elsewhere in search of safe haven. While leaving one’s homeland is never easy, growing tensions between opposing political parties or sectarian violence caused by conflicting religious groups jeopardizes the safety and security of innocent civilians. Under such dire circumstances, as we have seen in Iraq and Syria very recently, people are left with little reason to continue staying in their homelands, when a promise of greater hope may lie beyond their nation’s borders.

Countries With The Biggest Population Decline

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RankCountries% Decline
1Syria9.73 %
2Cook Islands3.00 %
3Moldova1.02 %
4Saint Pierre and Miquelon1.02 %
5Bulgaria0.83 %
6Estonia0.68 %
7Puerto Rico0.65 %
8Ukraine0.64 %
9Latvia0.62 %
10Virgin Islands0.56 %
11Montenegro0.49 %
12South Africa0.48 %
13Serbia0.46 %
14Micronesia0.42 %
15American-Samoa0.35 %
16Lithuania0.29 %
17Saint Vincent & the Grenadines0.29 %
18Romania0.29 %
19Slovenia0.23 %
20Hungary0.21 %

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