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News 06 Feb 12

Romania Census Reveals Decrease in Population

Head count’s preliminary data reveal a 12 per cent decline in population in the last decade as many workers went abroad.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Romania’s population has shrunk by more than 2.6 million since 2001, to some 19 million, according to preliminary census details.

While the negative demographic trend is worrying the experts, government officials say most of the decline was caused by job seekers migrating to richer European countries such as Spain, Italy and France in recent years.

“The data offer a worrying perspective about Romania’s development over the last decade," says sociologist Alin Teodorescu.

“They reveal a sharp decrease in the overall population, the ageing of the population, and a rise in the number of families without children. It’s very important the government starts policies aimed at supporting an increase in population.”

The total figure has shrunk mainly because anyone away from the country for more than 12 months is not counted as being part of the population. More than 900,000 people were reported as having left the country for a longer period of time, while over 600,000 Romanians were reported as temporarily absent.

Many Romanians have left to work abroad in recent years. The last census in 2001 showed that around 21.6 million people live in Romania.

Another important issue addressed by the census, according to experts, is the real size of the main ethnic minorities, the Roma and Hungarians. In terms of ethnicity, 88.6 percent of the respondents said they are Romanians, according to the census.

The strong Hungarian community in Romania has been declining for decades, and now stands at 1.23 million people (6.5 per cent of the total population), compared to 1.4 million 10 years ago. On the other hand, the size of the second-largest minority, Roma (Gypsy), rose to 620,000 people from 550,000, and it is widely believed that there are at least twice as many Roma in the country.

In recent months Roma have been urged in a public campaign to overcome their fears of discrimination and declare their true ethnicity in the census.

Furthermore, the preliminary data of the census shows that more than half of the population lives in cities and towns – more than 10 million people -- while the rest lives in rural areas.  Capital city Bucharest has 1.6 million inhabitants – 8.8 percent of the population.

There are 7.1 million households in Romania, the equivalent of 2.6 people per household. Over 165,000 people were reported to live in joint households or were homeless.

The census took place at the end of October and had a budget of 45 million euros.

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