Denmark is a relatively small country to the north of Europe, both in terms of area and population. It only borders Germany, but is connected to Sweden via bridge across the Öresund strait, which opened in 2000. It is also a flat country, its highest point rising only 170 meters above sea level. Moreover, the islands of Greenland and the Faroe Islands both belong under the Danish crown, but enjoy a high degree of autonomy.
At the beginning of 2023, 5.9 million people lived in Denmark. A high number of these live in the region in and around the capital Copenhagen. Copenhagen is also the largest city in Denmark, followed by Aarhus and Odense. In recent years, the average age in Demark has increased steadily, reaching 42.2 years in 2023. Hence, an aging population is one of the challenges facing the country in the coming decades. As a result of this, the number of births, and migration, the Danish population is expected to grow over the next decades.
Births and deaths
One of the main reasons for the increasing population is that more people are born than people dying. However, in 2022, over 58,000 babies were born in Denmark, compared to 59,000 deaths. What is more, the fertility rate has decreased since 2010, and the average age of women giving birth has also increased. As in many highly developed countries, women tend to prioritize higher education and career before becoming mothers. However, Denmark has one of the highest fertility rates in Europe, which can be explained by favorable social benefits for both parents.
A significant contribution to the overall population growth is the number of immigrants arriving in the country. In 2022, more than 103,000 people immigrated to Denmark. Of the immigrants living in the country at the beginning of 2022, Poles made up the largest group. Meanwhile, close to 63,000 people emigrated from Denmark in 2022, the highest number of them to Denmark's neighbor Germany. While immigration from other EU members remained high, the Danish government has implemented several laws in recent years to reduce the number of asylum seekers from other countries. For instance, immigrants are now required to work at least 37 hours a week in order to qualify for certain social benefits, and asylum seekers can now be sent to third-party countries while their application is being processed. As a result of this, but also due to travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of asylum seekers in Denmark has been below 500 every quarter since the beginning of the pandemic. However, a relatively high number of people fleeing from the War in Ukraine have arrived in Denmark, but most of these are not registered through the traditional asylum registration process.
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Einar H. Dyvik
Research expert covering Nordics and global data for society, economy, and politics