Population of Croatia Falls Below Four Million

By 23 February 2019

In mid-2018, Croatia had just 4.089 million inhabitants, according to the latest estimate by the Central Bureau of Statistics (DZS) published yesterday. According to the most recent census in 2011, the population of Croatia was 4.284 million, so Croatia has never had fewer inhabitants since gaining independence. Unofficial estimates of demographers show that the real number is actually below four million since many of the people who have moved abroad have not registered their new status with the authorities. The DZS estimates the number of inhabitants based on the number of births, deaths, immigrants and officially-registered emigrants, reports Večernji List on February 23, 2019.

The even worse news is the poor age structure. According to the estimate, there are only 590,600 children under the age of 14, while the number of people older than 65 is 833,300. This means that in just seven years the number of children younger than 14 years has been reduced by almost 60,000, while the number of older people has increased by 74,000.

“In my opinion, we have fewer than four million inhabitants, since a large number of emigrants did not register with the authorities. However, even worse is the poor age structure. This brings serious economic and social problems and consequences for the pension and health system. Based on the share of young people, we can expect many schools to close down, which is already taking place, particularly in rural settlements,” says demographer Anđelko Akrap, head of the Department of Demography at the Zagreb School of Economics.

Demographer Stjepan Šterc agrees with Akrap that Croatia has fewer than four million inhabitants. “These estimates on the number of residents in mid-2018 are quite optimistic. The latest data show that we are actually below four million people. The most accurate data is the number of children in elementary and secondary schools since schools annually provide official data on the number of pupils, so we can see that we have lost about 83,000 primary and secondary students in ten years. Approximately 65,000 children attending primary and secondary school have emigrated in the past ten years. When you add a natural decline of 150,000 people, in ten years we have had a population loss of more than 400,000 people,” says Šterc.

Demographer Marin Strmota shares the same opinion. “Unfortunately, these projections have been expected. The age structure is probably even worse due to the migration of people between 25 and 45 years of age, which is an additional burden for the country. Negative trends are continuing, so a few hundred more births last year can hardly mean anything,” says Strmota.

The DZS estimates show another absurdity: it is impossible for Croatia to have 4.089 million inhabitants and at the same time 3,774,548 registered voters, according to the voters’ registry run by the Ministry of Administration. Such a figure would only be possible if young children were allowed to vote.

Interestingly, according to the data from the Croatian Health Insurance Institute, there are 4,146,450 people with health insurance, which is again incompatible with everybody else’s numbers.

More demography news can be found in the Politics section.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Dijana Jurasić).