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Downturn looms in Faroese population development

With a rising mortality rate combining with slowing gain in life expectancy and a dramatic drop in fertility, the population of the Faroe Islands could be headed for decline after decades of growth. 

At the beginning of this century, the average fertility rate for Faroese women of childbearing age was 2.5, however for the past couple of years that rate has dropped significantly, according to Statistics Faroe Islands. Whereas in 2019 the fertility rate was 2.4, by 2020 and 2021 it had dropped to 2.3, only to plunge to 2.05 in 2022—well below the 2.1 mark, at which the generation of women of childbearing age can no longer replace itself. 

In other words, a recipe for overall population decline, notwithstanding the fact that the fertility rate in the island nation remains the highest in Europe, as per Eurostat.

The total population of the Faroe Islands had reached 54,362 at the beginning of April this year, a 1.1-percent increase year-on-year, yet again a lower increase compared to the previous year.

The past year’s population growth is due to a natural increase of 187 and a net migration of 382, according to Statistics Faroe Islands, with fewer people having deceased during this period compared to the previous 12-month period. 

The death rate, meanwhile, which for the past many years has been fairly steady, was unusually high in the first half of 2022, we’re told, while at the same time the birth rate was also dramatically declining.

The net migration during these past 12 months had reportedly dropped year-on-year, with growing numbers of people leaving the country.

In related news, according to the latest figures from Statistics Faroe Islands, the average life expectancy for Faroese women is 85.4 years, compared to 81.3 for men.

Since the mid 1980s, the average life expectancy has increased by 6.6 years for women and 9.4 years for men. Back then the difference between women and men in this regards was seven years, which means that gap has been closing in recent years.

Compared to other countries in Europe, the average life expectancy in the Faroe Islands is on the higher end, with San Marino topping the life expactancy list at 86.5 years, followed by Lichtenstein, Spain, Switzerland, France and the Faroe Islands. For men, Lichtenstein is reporting the highest life expectancy at 82.5 years, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and the Faroes.


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