The 20 countries facing population collapse

Japan is projected to have a population decline of 16.3% from 2020 to 2050.

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Japan is projected to have a population decline of 16.3% from 2020 to 2050.
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Charly Triballeau / AFP / Getty

  • Many countries face serious demographic headwinds in the decades to come.
  • Low birth and immigration rates could lead to rapidly aging and shrinking populations in these areas.
  • Using the UN’s population estimates, we found the 20 countries projected to have the largest percent decline in population from 2020 to 2050.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

While the world’s population is expected to continue growing for decades to come, many countries face serious demographic headwinds, with low birth and immigration rates leading to aging and shrinking populations.

Japan is facing a “demographic time bomb” as young people in that country forgo having children. The BBC recently highlighted attempts to slow Bulgaria’s population decline – the fastest in the world – by improving educational and economic opportunities in the country, making it more attractive for younger workers to stay rather than immigrating elsewhere in the European Union or to other countries. And while the United States is projected to keep growing for the foreseeable future, Americans are waiting longer to have children, suggesting a gradually aging population.

To get a sense of the demographic challenges confronting different parts of the world, we found the countries projected to have the most rapidly shrinking populations in the next few decades.

The United Nations regularly publishes demographic projections estimating how the world’s population could change over the next several decades. Using the UN’s middle-of-the-road estimates for fertility, mortality, and international migration, we found the 20 countries projected to have the largest percent declines in population from 2020 to 2050.

For the purposes of our analysis, we excluded subregions or overseas territories of other countries, like the French territory of Wallis and Futuna, which is projected by the UN to have an 18.7% population loss over the next three decades.

Here are the fastest-shrinking countries in the world:


20. Italy: The population is projected to drop from 60.5 million in 2020 to 54.4 million in 2050, a 10.1% decline.

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ROMAOSLO/Getty Images

19. Cuba: The population is projected to drop from 11.3 million in 2020 to 10.2 million in 2050, a 10.3% decline.

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Reuters

18. North Macedonia: The population is projected to drop from 2.1 million in 2020 to 1.9 million in 2050, a 10.9% decline.

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Shutterstock

17. Portugal: The population is projected to drop from 10.2 million in 2020 to 9.1 million in 2050, a 10.9% decline.

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Shutterstock

16. Georgia: The population is projected to drop from 4.0 million in 2020 to 3.5 million in 2050, an 11.8% decline.


15. Poland: The population is projected to drop from 37.8 million in 2020 to 33.3 million in 2050, a 12.0% decline.

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Artur Bogacki/Getty Images

14. Hungary: The population is projected to drop from 9.7 million in 2020 to 8.5 million in 2050, a 12.3% decline.

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Shutterstock

13. Estonia: The population is projected to drop from 1.3 million in 2020 to 1.2 million in 2050, a 12.7% decline.

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REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

12. Greece: The population is projected to drop from 10.4 million in 2020 to 9.0 million in 2050, a 13.4% decline.

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Reuters

11. Romania: The population is projected to drop from 19.2 million in 2020 to 16.3 million in 2050, a 15.5% decline.


10. Albania: The population is projected to drop from 2.9 million in 2020 to 2.4 million in 2050, a 15.8% decline.

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Christian Wittmann/Shutterstock

9. Japan: The population is projected to drop from 126.5 million in 2020 to 105.8 million in 2050, a 16.3% decline.

Japan is projected to have a population decline of 16.3% from 2020 to 2050.

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Charly Triballeau / AFP / Getty

8. Republic of Moldova: The population is projected to drop from 4.0 million in 2020 to 3.4 million in 2050, a 16.7% decline.

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Shutterstock/Hurghea Constantin

7. Croatia: The population is projected to drop from 4.1 million in 2020 to 3.4 million in 2050, an 18.0% decline.


6. Bosnia and Herzegovina: The population is projected to drop from 3.3 million in 2020 to 2.7 million in 2050, an 18.2% decline.

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Reuters/Dado Ruvic

5. Serbia: The population is projected to drop from 8.7 million in 2020 to 7.1 million in 2050, an 18.9% decline.


4. Ukraine: The population is projected to drop from 43.7 million in 2020 to 35.2 million in 2050, a 19.5% decline.

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SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

3. Latvia: The population is projected to drop from 1.9 million in 2020 to 1.5 million in 2050, a 21.6% decline.

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Karolis Kavolelis/Shutterstock

2. Lithuania: The population is projected to drop from 2.7 million in 2020 to 2.1 million in 2050, a 22.1% decline.

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Reuters

1. Bulgaria: The population is projected to drop from 6.9 million in 2020 to 5.4 million in 2050, a 22.5% decline.