Population ageing in central and eastern Europe as an outcome of the socio-economic transition to capitalism

Andreas Hoff


The aim of this article is to find an explanation for the extraordinarily rapid demographic change in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) during the 1990s. It will be argued that population ageing in CEE is an unintended side effect of the socio-economic transition from ‘communist’ to ‘capitalist’ societies. An unprecedented drop in fertility in combination with the emigration of many young people and improvements in life expectancy has resulted in an extraordinarily rapid ageing of the CEE populations. First, evidence for the interaction between socio-economic crisis and demographic change will be presented based on a literature review and Eurostat data. Clear evidence for rapid population ageing in CEE will be provided and how three demographic factors – mortality, fertility and migration – are driving this ageing process. Finally, implications of this joint transition and ageing process for the CEE societies and their people will be discussed.


Demographic change; population ageing; fertility; mortality; migration; Central and Eastern Europe

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789