Bulgaria’s 2021 census: Final results confirm large drop in population

Bulgaria’s population was 6 519 789 as of September 7 2021, the country’s National Statistical Institute (NSI) said on October 3, in the first of a series of publications based on the final results of the September 2021 census.

The 2011 census showed the population of Bulgaria to be 7 364 570, which put the population decline in the decade that followed at 844 781, or 11.5 per cent, according to the NSI.

The average annual population decline between 2011 and 2021 was 1.2 per cent, up from 0.7 per cent in the decade between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, the NSI said.

Natural population change, meaning the difference between the number of births and deaths, accounted for a population decline of about 501 000.

Each year since the 2011 census showed negative natural population change, with the largest decline recorded in 2021 at 90 317.

Emigration was other major cause of population decline, with about 344 000 people leaving Bulgaria in the decade since the 2011 census.

The 2021 census recorded a population decline in all 28 districts of Bulgaria, with the city of Sofia (an entity distinct from the district of Sofia) having the smallest decrease of 1.3 per cent and the district of Vidin having the largest at 25.4 per cent.

Women accounted for 51.9 per cent of Bulgaria’s population, with the 2021 census recorded 3 383 527 women and 3 136 262 men.

The latest census showed that “the negative trends in the change of the age structure of the population continue to intensify,” the NSI said.

The number of people aged 65 and older in Bulgaria was 1 532 667, an increase of 12.6 per cent compared to the 2011 census. As a share of the total population, this was 23.5 per cent, up from 18.5 per cent in the 2011 census.

The number of people aged 14 and younger was 918 000, a decline of 5.9 per cent from 975 000 in 2011. As a share of the population, however, this group accounted for 14.1 per cent in 2021, up from 13.2 per cent in 2011.

The “active” age group of 15 to 64 showed a decline of 958 501 or 19.1 per cent and stood at 4 069 400, or 62.4 per cent of the country’s population, the NSI said.

Geographically, nearly three quarters – 4 782 064 or 73.3 per cent – lived in cities and towns, while the number living in villages was 1 737 725 or 26.7 per cent.

The 2021 census showed that 99.1 per cent of the country’s population had Bulgarian citizenship, including 0.5 per cent who had a second passport.

Citizens of other EU member states accounted for 0.2 per cent of Bulgaria’s population at 10 549. The largest numbers of EU citizens living in Bulgaria were from Germany (1797), Greece (1631), Italy (1293), Poland (1113), and Romania (698).

Citizens of third countries accounted for 0.7 per cent of Bulgaria’s population or 49 453 at the time of the 2021 census. The census concluded in October 2021, before the large refugee flows caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian citizens accounted for 35.3 per cent of third-country nationals living in Bulgaria (17 465), followed by citizens of Ukraine (6163), Britain (4484), Turkey (3017) and Syria (2615).

(Logo of the 2021 Bulgarian census from nsi.bg)

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