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An Incredibly Detailed Map of Europe's Population Shifts (citylab.com)
103 points by cawel on June 24, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 61 comments

Ireland is interesting. It's long been the sick man in terms of population growth since 1845 up until the late 1980s and now is the odd man out in Europe as being one of the few countries that can grow its population.

Ireland has had a recession since 2008 but ended last year with a return to slow growth and during this time had high unemployment and high emigration. It's expected to be the fastest growing European economy by far over the next 12 months. Still Irelands prosperity, high minimum wage and generous welfare benefits are attracting immigration from Eastern Europe and North Africa in particular. This compounded with Irelands high fertility rate accentuates her population growth above her neighbours.

These trends are expected to continue even as Europe exits recession and returns to growth.

The images surprised me though - it suggests all of Ireland is growing somewhat evenly when the truth is that while most if is growing Dublin and her surrounding area and Cork are growing much faster than the rest and the picture doesn't indicate that though I'm sure the data will.

> It's long been the sick man in terms of population growth since 1845

That reminds me of a section from the book "1493", discussing the introduction of the potato to Europe and later the potato-famine:

> Today Ireland has the melancholy distinction of being the only nation in Europe, and perhaps the world, to have fewer people within the same boundaries than it did more than 150 years ago.

The Famine made Ireland "Irish" in the sense that we understand it today. The famine caused people to become more pious in their Catholicism, even more impoverished and detest the British even more than what they previously did. It probably was the single most important factor in shaping modern Ireland.

Many here are probably aware that Ireland had in 1845 a population of 9 Million but only 6 Million today (all Island pop). The entirety of the UK at the time had a population of 22 Million people. This means the Britain (Scotland, England and Wales) was only 25% bigger than Ireland at that time which is completely different today with the UK having >60 Million people and Ireland (Republic) having 4.5 Million. Ireland had a similar agricultural output compared to Britain which is at least three time larger.

If the famine didn't happen Ireland could easily have a population of over 30 Million. However it did happen and alternate realities are hard to predict.

> If the famine didn't happen Ireland could easily have a population of over 30 Million. However it did happen and alternate realities are hard to predict.

In a way it has, there are that many with Irish ancestry in America, not strange as emigration there cost Ireland much more people than the famine.

Wasn't one of the forces dictating this migration the famine itself?

"If the famine didn't happen Ireland could easily have a population of over 30 Million"

Would you really want to become Bangladesh? 30 Million seems an awfully high number for a country of such size and latitude.

If Ireland had similar population density to Southeast England, it would have a population of around 39 million.

It would need a larger city to make that happen though - Dublin is an order of magnitude smaller than London. Now a x10 scaling of Dublin would be interesting though.

England has forests, nature reserves, fjords elsewhere. That's why this region can be so dense? Why would you want to build up everything? Where's the gain I wonder?

Setting questionable English 'fjords' aside, the point isn't that it would be desirable to have a population of 30 million in Ireland, but that it would be possible, without having the population density (and presumably poverty) of Bangladesh. You asked how a small island in the north atlantic could sustain more than 30 million people - well, South East England has a population density of about 1200 people per square mile, at a similar latitude. Transplant that same population density to Ireland and you'd fit 39 million people. So, if you want to know what an Ireland with 30 million people in it would look like, don't imagine Bangladesh, think of Southeast England.

And Southeast England is still considered a pretty beautiful, green part of the world. It contains the South Downs and New Forest national parks, the Chiltern hills, and about 60% of the land in the region is actively farmed. Of course, in the middle of it you've got London, which accounts for the overall density. So yes, a populated Ireland would be different; Dublin and Belfast would be vastly different cities; - but it wouldn't have stopped being the emerald isle if in an alternate history its population had reached 30m.

Yes it is possible, but why would you ever want that?

Why want Dublin faster grown and thus soulless? Why want Irish spirit to be abolished and replaced with hive mentality?

I could totally understand you if Ireland would be declining, but it's thriving, attracting people, growing naturally when most nations struggle at that. You're in a perfect position and you want to replace it with something random?

Why would anyone ever want that? Because people have different opinions about what is best. You are absolutely entitled to think that a more populous Ireland would be a bad thing, but you're being downvoted because you can't seem to see that that's just a personal preference, not an absolute truth.

Personally, I live in New Zealand (population: 4.5 million), and I'd strongly prefer it if we had twice as many people. A bigger population can sustain a healthier economy, with more opportunities for everyone. However, I'm well aware that I'm an outlier; most people think differently and I respect that.

  > England has forests
Ireland had forests too. Where are they now? Mostly in English castles.

"fjords elsewhere"

Fjords in England? Where?

If Ireland had the population density of the Netherlands, they'd have 34m people. (Ireland ~73.5/km^2 density and ~84k km^2 area; Netherlands 407/km^2 density and ~41k km^2 area).

For reference Bangladesh sits at just above 1000/km^2 density.

Nine million on Ireland in 1845?! They tell us the famine was caused by monoculture; they tell us it was a fungus; they tell us it was English land and farm policy; they tell us it was inequality; they tell us it was import quotas.

But they never mention that Ireland was horribly overcrowded. Nine million is jam packed horror.

At six million today, Ireland should be closed to immigration and paying naturalized Eastern Europeans and North Africans to give up citizenship and leave. Even six million is dangerously overpopulated. Thirty million is pure nightmare.

Really? Ireland has 13% of the population density of England, and around 1% of the population density of Greater London, both of which are keeping their heads above water just fine.

England and similarly dense countries like Bengala-Desh are horribly overcrowded. The locals are desperate to send home immigrants and refuse even to replace themselves by having enough babies.

And that's after concentrating a large population in Europe's largest city so that they can at least have a little open space elsewhere.

As a long-term resident of one of the most diverse boroughs in London, I can vouch for my own lack of desperation to deport immigrants, though I'm sure you can find the same xenophobic vocal minority that can find in most countries if you look hard enough. Though I do conceed that I am finding the task of replacing myself with a baby somewhat difficult, which may or may not be due to lack of large, sparsely populated land mass.

... Ireland has less than a fifth of the population density the Netherlands has. They don't particularly strike me as a "jam packed horror".

You're talking about a country so insanely crowded that they actually manufacture land out of the sea just to squeeze themselves in. In fact, they're famous for it because it's so awful and crazy.

There's significant danger that rising oceans and a major storm could kill millions. That sounds like horror to just about everyone.

And Netherlands has adjacent countries not so dense as itself with forests and open space to adjourn to on weekends for sanity. Ireland is an island.

I just spent a fantastic vacation in Ireland, traveling between Dublin, Cork, and Galway by car--which meant a lot of narrow but very well-kept roads between many tiny towns. The idea that double, even triple, the population of Ireland would somehow not have "forests and open space to adjourn to" is...well...it's interesting.

Wait, did I say interesting? I meant "horse manure". That is an empty country, with plenty of room and remarkably little need for the sort of xenophobia you've espoused in this thread (a xenophobia that no one I met in Ireland seemed into, either!). And I don't think HN needs it, either.

Oh, it's so nice you've seen the country from a car. A manufactured experience professionally landscaped by traffic engineers observed from within a machine those engineers are employed to promote taught you all you need to know about a country.

Ireland is almost empty of wilderness and has scant backcountry. Even the mountain ranges have a very few trails backed by industrial tree farms. Most of the supposed forest left is so tightly controlled that the wave pattern of regularity produces moire patterns in the trees. All the life, nature and interest is squeezed out.

There's certainly no place left to seek extended solitude or homestead cheap land. The youth of the countryside are leaving or escaping to cities. I'm glad the nearly-indoor controlled experience of the roads was nice for you, but Ireland is full and bursting at the seams. More people will only make it worse.

Only one thing in this entire post is not wildly inaccurate: there is a lot of rural to urban migration amongst young people in Ireland, but this is something which happens in every country in the world.

If it is any stronger in Ireland, it has much more to do with how bad the infrastructure is in Ireland and how Dublin-centric most investment is.

"A manufactured experience professionally landscaped by traffic engineers"? You give our government more credit than it deserves.

WildUtah, I have no idea where you are getting your information, but I am Irish, I have lived in Ireland my whole life. I'm in Ireland, looking out at Ireland as I write this message.

Your assessment is extraordinarily inaccurate.

"insanely crowded"?

Then why is the majority clamouring for more homes to be built? Property prices are climbing, not because things are too crowded, but because there aren't enough houses.[1][2]. Surely if it were "insanely crowded" here there'd be more of a popular pushback saying "where are we going to put these new houses?". Let me tell you: it doesn't exist.

The Irish government is going to great lengths to encourage new house building to meet the demand.

Ireland is famous for for manufacturing land out of the sea? Really? Well you're going to have inform this Irishman what you are referring to. The only things I can think of is the creation of Bull Island -- which was an unintended side-effect of the building of the Bull Wall, a successful project to dredge Dublin Bay undertaken in the early 18th Century [3] -- and various land reclamation projects around Dublin Port over the past 300 years, which a quick google search will inform you were more to do with planning permission than overcrowding.

For a country which is "insanely crowded", someone forgot to tell the population that. Add to this the population density facts which other commenters have provided, which you disregard and I can tell you that your information sources are lying to you.

[1] http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/review-of-the-yea...

[2] http://www.irishexaminer.com/business/features/shortage-of-h...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull_Wall

Your "not so dense" country, Germany, has more than 3 times the density Ireland does.

Northern Ireland has had a negative migration trend ever since the 90's. http://www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/demography/population/midyea...

However the birthrate is far outstripping any emmigration losses so they continue to have a largely positive population growth.

> t suggests all of Ireland is growing somewhat evenly when the truth is that while most if is growing Dublin and her surrounding area and Cork are growing much faster than the rest and the picture doesn't indicate that though I'm sure the data will.

As far as I could tell, the darkest red colour represents '> 2% population growth,' so that graphic is not much good at breaking down areas that are all experiencing more than 2% growth.

Here's a dynamic map I've made on the same subject, showing a macro view, country-level shifts : http://laem.github.io/eurpop/

"Scotland’s Northeast shows remarkable population gains, a likely result of the North Sea oil industry concentrated in Aberdeen."

I think you can probably explain the two red blobs near Aberdeen on oil and the wealth it has brought to that area but at least one of the other red blobs further west must be the Aviemore/Strathspey area which has become incredibly popular for outdoor sports and general high quality of life.

Amusingly, although Aviemore is described as a "boom town" it's population only grew by 36% in the decade to 2011 adding an extra 956 people :-)


There are some really interesting things on that map. The apparent huge influx of people into France and the UK is one. Another amazing thing is that after what I think is around $1 trillion dollars spent in former east German states post reunification, the outflow of people still looks to be strong.

"still looks to be strong"

As you know, you can't tell that from this picture. An area that has had large annual population decreases for the first 5 years, and slower growth for the second 5 will still show up as red.

Also, quite a bit of the population decreases in the countryside will be of people moving into the cities.

Because of differences in population density, that can give the impression of population decline where there is none.

Looking at Germany, for me the picture 'confirms' that their population is shrinking (no growth in the west, apparent decrease in the east) that makes the strong growth of their economy in the past years even more of a miracle.

Why should the growth of economy be a miracle if the population is shrinking?

Mostly that's why the population is shrinking, people who live in the better economies, mostly have less kids, mostly due to the fact that they don't have the time and mostly working harder than others.

Also our economy grown mostly cause of the fact that our strong export got a huge increase since we had a european currency ("Deutsche Mark" or "DM" was just too good for the export market), while the Euro is / was way better since other countries brought it to a lower level.

If your population grows, you get some growth 'for free' in the sense that it doesn't require productivity to increase.

If the population shrinks, keeping the economy flat already requires productivity improvements. Growing it at a time where other economies with growing populations can't is a bit of a miracle. Those increased exports still have to be produced.

He's partly correct: German growth is by design.

First, enter a monetary union with weaker economies with dubious credit, at a really advantageous rate for these economies but effectively substantially depressing the new Deutsche Mark.

Second, lend like crazy to these countries whilst markets believe Greek paper to have the same default risk as German.

Third, as the neighbouring countries are using the newly available borrowing and their strong new euros to go on a spending binge, provide the products.

With both guaranteed demand in Europe guaranteeing large volume, and an effective 40% discount on German exports vs where they should be with the Deutsche Mark, you can take market share from the Korean and Japanese let alone Americans and even avoid having your manufacturing sector destroyed by Chinese competition. In Europe it's even worse, VW thrives as Rover goes under.

The best part is that when Southern European credit finally catches up with where it should be trading, you get to brag about your wunderbar Mittelstand values and insult those pesky lazy Southerners, whilst reinforcing the very actions that guarantee you the continuation of de facto devaluation policies without being responsible for them (and therefore getting booted out of office by an angry German electorate annoyed at being underpaid on a global basis). Invisible tax FTW. Even those Germans who might have pieced it together will hesitate before putting any real pressure towards, say, a Grexit, because their pension fund is invested to the neck in Greek paper. Meinen Kinder will sort it out, but I arbeit so hard all my life, surely I deserve to enjoy my pension...

So, not a miracle, it is by design, a rather magnificent one too. One that, long term, seems to beat sending the Fallschirmjaeger on Kreta.

I highly doubt that people work harder in advancing economies.

Exactly what I was saying. The map is terribly hard to interpret unless you can make a rough guess of how many people live in each tiny segment.

If you read some of the more nationalistic UK press, you would have expected the UK to be a much deeper red. Even the major connurbations don't seem to have seen as much change as I was expecting.

Nothing like the red in Ireland! Although that is largely mitigating previous outflows.

Isn't a lot of it due to greater urbanization? While the rural areas lose people, not only does Berlin grow but also Leipzig, Dresden, Magdeburg and Rostock.

I think the map show no major city in eastern Germany actually losing population.

Yep, everyone here knows Berlin is getting overwhelmed really fast. There's a word on the streets Dresden is next, then Leipzig.

Shows percent change... but not the magnitude of the change.

Seeing a map that combined both percentage and magnitude to compute the colors (perhaps similar to the Tf–idf calculation?) would be much more interpretable. 50% of people leaving the middle of a forest doesn't really tell me much, versus 50% change in a dense city.

True.. I see the big blue shades between Portugal and Spain and imagine those areas growing, but that region is basically rural

Anyone know of anything like this for the States?

Here's a county-by-county map showing population change in the 2010 census:


It is interesting that many NH posters have a negative view on immigration from eastern europe. However, the effect on the countries from which people emigrate (I am somewhat familiar with Baltics) is quite tough. Imagine having a large portion of hard working energetic people suddenly leave.

I imagine (and see it daily all around me actually). This poses to local authorities a hard problem, the outcome of which will either be a spiral down or a remedy of some sort.

Looks like people are moving to the coastal areas. And I can't blame them. Once you live next to a large body of water, being land-locked is suffocating.

Another obvious trend is people moving to large cities.

They've left the Falklands off the map! How come? I mean, Guyane's there!

Guyane is considered part of France (so part of the EU), but the Falklands (and other overseas territories, there are a few) aren't part of the UK, or the EU.

Ahh I see, excellent answer, very informative. Thanks for taking the time to help :)

The map desperately need St. Pierre and Michelob.

Also we need to see how the illegal French occupied population of Clipperton Island is changing.

I don't know why it is so desperately needed, but Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon seems to have lost about 3% population during this period, going from 6300 in 1999 to 6069 in 2012.

Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis-et-Futuna are rarely included in such stats as they are not part of the EU and not geographically part of Europe either, unlike French Guiana and the others which are part of EU, so at least part of Europe in a political sense.

(Symbiote, all of these territories are very much part of France though, just under different rules for some of them.)

I don't know where you're going with Clipperton though, it's sometimes illegally visited and trashed by fishers and such, but they can't be considered a population in any sense.

Anyone have any idea why in the countries most hit by the recession (Spain, Italy and Greece to name a few) there's striking divergence between population growth specifically decreasing Greece on one hand while increasing in Italy and Spain in general despite the three of them share the same dynamics at play and especially Greece and Spain?

I'm not sure if that's true. Pick Spain:

Madrid and all surrounding cities (Toledo, etc.) are a big shade of red. Barcelona and in fact the entire densely populated Mediterranean coast (Valencia, etc.) is also lipstick-red. Sure, let's look at the Basque Country. Also red.

The only blue I see is in the mostly rural Extremadura, Leon, etc. (close to Portugal).

So even if pop. decreased, not everyone moved from e.g. Madrid to Germany. Many people moved to smaller cities or rural areas, so if you just see the map without pop densities it looks that way.

As I see it, most of the blue blobs are in Portugal and Galicia or the Northwest in general. Other population centers in Spain are growing despite the recession and stratospheric youth unemployment.

Also worth mentioning, Spanish people are still regarded to be religious to some extent and so are the Greek. So, I'm a bit surprised to see the divergence here where Greeks shun marriage and raising children while their Spanish counterparts still hold to these traditional values.

"So, I'm a bit surprised to see the divergence here where Greeks shun marriage and raising children while their Spanish counterparts still hold to these traditional values."



Looks like South Europe has abandoned having enough children to replace themselves simultaneously. One cannot blame them: those countries are horribly overpopulated, even more so than the USA.

And what few babies there are are significantly being born to Middle Eastern and African settlers attracted by gullible immigration policies that overcrowded countries can ill afford.

Eastern Europeans are much more likely to migrate to Italy and Spain than to Greece. Romanians especially. One reason is that Romanian is closer to Italian and Spanish than to Greek.

It's true that the language plays a role in deciding where one prefers to go, but there are also the somewhat more prosaic considerations like the economical ones. The state of Greek economy is nothing like that of Italy or Spain. I have a romanian relative that left Greece after seven years (time in which she learned Greek, accommodated herself and everything) and settled for Italy recently. The hardships exist and this move wasn't easy (from an economical point of view, compared to her previous pre-recession Greece settling experience), but with all that it seems that it still does worth it.

It's also a self fueling process, as the current migrant workers help others migrate and find jobs. The more Romanians there are in a country, the easier it is to migrate there.

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