Vienna, by Rudolf von Alt

Austria. Once the heart of a great Empire, now a small land-locked nation in the middle of Europe. The country inhabits around 8.8 million citizens. The population is growing, mostly due to the inflow of migrants. How will the demographic future of Austria look?

Fertility in Austria

The fertility rate in Austria is a meager 1.53 children per women in 2016, which was actually an increase from the even lower 1.49 that it was in 2015. In 2000 it stood at only 1.36; this increase can probably be explained by the arrival of foreign women with higher fertility rates. The rate of indigenous Austrians could still hover around 1.36. This rate of 1.5 means that every generation will be around 75% the size of the previous generation. A rapid reduction in population size. For a stable population the rate should be around 2.1. Interestingly, Muslims living in Austria do reach a fertility rate of 2.2.

Austrian women have fewer children, and they start having children later. But why? For the deeper root-cause we may need to look elsewhere. Overall Austria counted almost 88.000 births, compared to less than 81.000 deaths in 2016. That provided a natural growth of the population of around 7.000. Keep in mind that this growth is purely due to people living longer, as over time the death rate will become larger than the birth rate.

Migration in Austria

In 2016 Austria’s population grew with 65.000 people purely due to migration. This number is the difference between those that immigrated into Austria, being 174.000, and those that emigrated from Austria, being 109.000. So 174.000 people settled in Austria that year. Newcomers to the country. Due to quite a few people that were living in Austria leaving the country, the overall net migration number is ‘only’ 65.000. In 2015, net migration was 113.000, almost twice the number of 2016.

Some of these immigrants and emigrants are those with Austrian citizenship that move abroad, or that move back to their Austrian home. However, those with Austrian citizenship had a net migration of -5000. This means that there were more (5000) Austrians that left the country, than that came back. For foreign citizens, the net migration number was almost 70.000. So we see that we now have in a single year, 70.000 people moving into Austria that are not Austrian citizens. Close to 1% of the total population, every year.

Austria’s Current Demography

Some 1.9 million people with a foreign background were living in Austria in 2016. This includes both those that have one ore both parents born abroad, as well as those that themselves were born abroad. Out of these, 1.4 million were born abroad themselves, while the remaining 500.000 were the second-generation of parents that came from abroad. The 1.9 million represents 22% of the total Austrian population. More than one in five Austrians has a foreign background.

Out of the 88.000 babies born in Austria in 2016, a significant number would have been born to parents with a foreign background. We can assume that at least 22% of them would have such a background, since the foreign elements in the population make up 22% of the total. Moreover, the foreign population is likely younger on average than the indigenous population, making it more likely for them to be procreating. This would mean around 20.000 children were born to parents with a foreign background.

That leaves only 68.000 babies born to the indigenous population – although this number actually includes 3rd generation foreigners. We can compare that to the growth in population of 70.000 migrants, plus these 20.000 children born to parents with a migrant background, totaling 90.000. The majority of population replenishment in Austria is thus due to foreigners (90.000), compared to the population replenishment by Austrians (63.000, as from the 68.000 we need to subtract the Austrians emigrating). With such numbers, mathematics guarantees that Austrians will become a minority within their own country sooner rather than later.

Where do they come from?

Out of the migrants arriving in 2016, around half came from other EU countries. Most notably Romania, Hungary and Germany. The other half came from either a non-EU European country, or from further away. Out of these 35.000, around 8000 came from non-EU nations in Europe. Afghanistan contributed 9000, and Syria another 8000. The remainder originated in other non-European countries.

The Rise of Foreign-Born

By 2017, the amount of foreign-born people living in Austria had already increased to 1.675 million, from the 1.4 million just the year previous. This number does not include those who are the second generation. In 2017 this group formed around 19% of the total population of Austria. Modest expectations hold that this number will increase to 2.49 million by 2060, at which point it will be 25% of the total Austrian population. In Vienna, the share of foreign-born inhabitants is already 35%, and we can expect this to reach 41% by 2040 – although those predictions seem rather modest. With regards to the amount of Muslims; Austria currently has a Muslim population of around 7%. By 2050, this is expected to sit between 10 and 20%, depending on the level of migration. Unsurprisingly, 65% of Austrians wants all immigration from Muslim nations to stop.

The Official Predictions

When we follow the official government predictions, we can see that they expect another two million migrants to come to Austria between now and 2060. This two million is the net number of migrants, so this is the amount of immigrants (almost 8 million) minus the amount of emigrants (almost 6 million). As Austrian citizens are more likely to emigrate than to return home, this two million is not even the total of the new foreign-born population. Regardless, this is equal to another 20% of the total population. Moreover, it does not include the second or third generations. If we would include those, for which it is difficult to obtain reliable figures, it is not a far-reaching statement to say that by 2060 over half of Austrians will have a foreign-background. How Austrian will Austria be at that point?

Migrants Bring Crime to Austria

What are the effects of this migration into Austria so far? Well, for one, crime rates are up. A grandmother walking her dog along the riverbank was raped. A young boy was sexually assaulted in a public swimming pool. A female student was gang raped near Vienna’s Ferris wheel. A 54-year-old woman got beaten to death in the middle of the street. These shocking attacks are not isolated incidents, 54% of the prison population in Austria consists of foreigners. Out of the foreign prison population, 45.9% were asylum seekers.

Austria’s Response

The Austrians have lost faith in the European Union to solve the migrant problems. They elected the right-wing leader Sebastian Kurz as chancellor. Currently Austria is working together with Denmark to help the asylum seekers outside of Europe.

” People travelling to Europe illegally cross through several countries and pick their favourite one to lodge their asylum claim. It shouldn’t be like that.”

Sebastian kurz

Kurz is one of several European leaders that does not seem to agree that migrants are such a great benefit for Europe. Furthermore, he does not consider it an unstoppable force – instead, he works on ways to prevent more migrants flowing into Europe. It is not too late to preserve the Austrian identity, but Kurz does face a difficult challenge.