Press Release: 12.664-255/21

Population forecast: the nine-million mark is expected to be reached in 2022; as of this year, there are more senior citizens than people under 20 living in Austria

Vienna, 2021-11-26 – Austria's population is growing and aging. This process will continue in the future, according to the population forecast published by Statistics Austria. According to the forecast, Austria's population is expected to reach the nine-million mark in 2022 and grow by 6% to 9.47 million by 2040, and finally by 11% to 9.94 million by 2080.

"Austria's population is growing. The leap over the nine-million mark is imminent. But Austria is also getting older. Life expectancy has increased massively in recent decades. However, the Covid-19-pandemic has temporarily slowed down this long-term trend: In 2020, life expectancy has decreased by half a year," says Statistics Austria Director General Tobias Thomas.

Migration gains exceed projected birth deficits

The expected population growth is exclusively due to migration gains of about 30 000 persons per year. This is a continuation of a long-standing trend: Since the turn of the century, Austria's population has increased mainly due to migration surpluses. In the 2001 census, Austria had a population of just over 8 million for the first time, and in 2010 the annual average was 8.36 million. By 2020, the population had increased by a further 6.6% to 8.92 million. In the coming years, however, the number of deaths is likely to rise above the number of births, as the strong birth cohorts of the baby boom of the 1950s and 1960s move into retirement age. The birth balance will thus become negative. Nevertheless, further increases are likely in the future, as the projected migration gains will exceed the losses from the birth balance.

Strongest population growth at retirement age

The population of the 65+ generation will continue to grow strongly in terms of numbers and share. As of this year, there are more people aged 65 and over in Austria than there are people under 20. In addition to stagnating birth rates, this is due in particular to the strong birth cohorts of the 1950s and 1960s, who are gradually moving into retirement age. After the Corona-induced decline of 0.5 years in 2020, the increase in life expectancy should return to the long-term path. Thus, in 2040, the population aged 65 and over should be 46% (or about 800 000 persons) larger than in 2020. At the same time, their share in the population will increase from 19.2% at present to 26.4% (2040). The number of persons of working age from 20 to under 65 has currently reached its maximum at 5.50 million; by 2040, it will fall by just under 300 000 persons (-5%) below the current level (see Table 1). After 2040, according to the forecast, the number of persons of working age will remain largely constant. Although the number of people under 20 will still rise slightly, their share of the total population will fall in the medium term from 19.3% (2020) to 18.8% (2040).

Proportion of foreign-born increases from 20% to 27% in the long term

The size of Austria's foreign-born population will continue to increase in the future, assuming continued international immigration. In 2020, 1.78 million people who were not born in Austria lived in the federal territory, which corresponds to 20% of the total population (see Table 1). According to the forecast, their number will rise to 2.25 million (+26%) by 2040, and finally to 2.69 million by 2080 (+50% compared to the base year 2020). The share of persons not born in Austria thus increases to 24% by 2040 and to 27% by 2080 according to the forecast (see Table 1).

The east of Austria is growing the strongest

The 11% population growth forecast for Austria by 2080 will be distributed very differently across the regions. Above-average growth is expected in Vienna. The federal capital accounts for more than one third of international immigration to Austria. According to the forecast, Vienna will exceed the two-million mark in 2026 – as it did last at the beginning of the 20th century. In Carinthia, on the other hand, slight population losses are to be expected – as in past years – as a result of which the number of inhabitants should fall behind Salzburg in the foreseeable future. As a result, Salzburg should rise to become the sixth-largest federal state in terms of population. Besides Vienna, an above-average population growth is also forecast for Lower Austria, while the trends in Salzburg and Styria are below the federal average. The expected population trends in Burgenland (slightly above average) and in Upper Austria, Tyrol and Vorarlberg (slightly below average) are largely in line with the forecast federal trend (see Table 2).

Detailed results and further information on the population forecast as well as an interactive population pyramid can be found on our website.

Information on methodology, definitions: To calculate the forecast, the population stock as of 1.1.2021, differentiated by age, gender and country of birth, is extrapolated into the future. The population ages by one year per calendar year. The new birth cohorts of a forecast year are calculated using age-specific fertility rates (live births by age of mother). Deaths are derived from age- and sex-specific death probabilities multiplied by population levels. While international out-migration is calculated from rates analogous to deaths, in-migration is given in absolute numbers (also by age and sex in each case). In the long term, 145,000 immigrants are expected annually. With about 115,000 people moving away, this results in annual migration gains of about 30,000 persons. Internal migration between the nine federal provinces of Austria is modelled by means of age-, gender- and direction-specific out-migration rates. 
When interpreting the results according to the characteristic "born in Austria/abroad", it should be noted that this is not a forecast of Austria's population by citizenship ("foreigners forecast"). The future development of the population by citizenship depends not only on international immigration and emigration (and, of course, on their fertility and mortality) but also, and in particular, on the development of naturalisation rates. These depend to a large extent on future political conditions and can therefore hardly be anticipated. In contrast, the "country of birth" characteristic selected here remains unchanged for the lifetime of the respective person.


Table 1: Population projections for Austria by age and country of birth (main variant)
YearTotal population, absoluteIn %Born abroad
TotalUp to under 20 years20 to under 65 years65 and more yearsUp to under 20 years20 to under 65 years65 and more yearstotalin %
Table 2: Population projections for Austria by province (main variant)
Lower Austria1.687.6511.726.5771.760.9541.820.7271.869.2071.899.0071.933.4651.972.658
Upper Austria1.493.3771.523.0321.549.6411.591.0741.617.0131.628.6001.647.3081.669.822
Austria total8.916.8459.113.8989.250.6159.469.9439.625.6229.703.3199.808.3409.937.632

For further inquiries please contact Directorate Social Statistics. Statistics Austria:  
Alexander HANIKA. Tel. +43 1 71128-7279 resp.

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