In this brief, authors Kenneth Johnson, Layton Fields, and Dudley Poston, Jr. present important new findings about the diminishing number of births compared to deaths in Europe and the United States from their recent article in Population and Development Review. Their research focuses on the prevalence and dynamics of natural decrease in subareas of Europe and the United States in the first decade of the twenty-first century using counties (United States) or county-equivalents (Europe). The authors report that 58 percent of the 1,391 counties of Europe had more deaths than births during that period compared to just 28 percent of the 3,137 U.S. counties. Natural decrease is more widespread in Europe because its population is older, fertility rates are lower, and there are fewer women of child-bearing age. Natural decrease is a major policy concern because it drains the demographic resilience from a region, diminishing its economic viability and competitiveness. The implications of the recent European immigrant surge for natural decrease are uncertain, but the authors’ analysis suggests that natural decrease is likely to remain widespread in Europe for the foreseeable future.

Publication Date

Winter 12-15-2015


National Issue Brief No. 93


Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire

Document Type



Copyright 2015. Carsey School of Public Policy. These materials may be used for the purposes of research, teaching, and private study. For all other uses, contact the copyright holder.



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