Aging Catalan population expected to hit eight million by 2030
Consistent levels of immigration will make up for the particularly low fertility rate
Catalonia's population will surpass eight million people by 2030, with steady immigration compensating for the low birth rate, according to government statistics institute Idescat.
The arrival of an estimated 40,000 immigrants each year, on top of the rising average life expectancy, is forecast to drive the number of Catalan residents up by 7% within a decade.
The trend – in line with countries of a similar size and level of economic development such as Hong Kong – implies an aging population and may require a redistribution of public funds.
The number of children under the age of 16 is expected to be 127,000 lower in 2030, meaning secondary schools could afford to shrink by 17.8% without an impact on class sizes, while the population of pensioners is predicted to keep growing, reaching 1.785 million over-65s.
Vice-president Pere Aragonès welcomed the overall increase in the population as "excellent news", helping to sustain the pensions system, but admitted the generational shift posed a challenge for the government, which would have to devote more investment to healthcare.
Births and deaths
Life expectancy is certain to continue its upsurge, hitting 88 for women and 83 for men by 2030, with Spain set to overtake Japan globally as the country whose inhabitants live the longest.
Meanwhile, Catalonia is likely to remain one of the European territories with the lowest fertility rates in the short term before recovering moderately. An anticipated 790,000 babies will be born over the next 12 years, 15.3% fewer than the already relatively barren period since 2008.
The metropolitan area of Barcelona in particular is estimated to expand by 2.1% to 1.648 million citizens in 2018. Almost half of the new inhabitants in Catalonia between now and 2030 will come from the capital, the 12th most populous city in the EU and the largest on the Mediterranean.