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close this bookThe Courier N 130 Nov - Dec 1991 - Dossier: Oil - Reports: Kenya - The Comoros (EC Courier, 1991, 96 p.)
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View the documentSome basic statistics

Some basic statistics


As at 1 January 1990, the European Community, with 327 million inhabitants, had the third highest population in the world after China (1 135 million) and India (853 million). Currently, 6% of the world’s population live in the Community. In 1950, 10% lived in the Europe of the Twelve, but by 2020, only 4% of the world’s population will live there.

The population of the European Community is growing older: in 1988, 62.8 million (or 19.4%) of its 324 million inhabitants were over 60, while 85 million - 26.3% - were under 20. The ‘oldest’ countries are Denmark and the Federal Republic of Germany. Ireland is the only country that is still ‘young’.

The average population density of the European Community is 143 inhabitants per km², but in the most densely populated regions - the most industrialised areas, from north-west England to northern Italy and the main capital cities or regional capitals - there are more than 350 inhabitants per km².

Since the 1960s, fertility in the European Community countries has fallen to below generation-replacement level. The total fertility rate for the Community as a whole fell from 2.63 children per woman in 1960 to 1.58 in 1989.

For Europeans, life expectancy at birth is one of the highest in the world, with women living longer than men: 78.6 years as against 72.0.

Since 1960, there has been as spectacular drop in infant mortality, from 34.8‰ in 1960 to 8.2‰ in 1989.

Eight million foreigners out of a total of 13 million come from countries that are not Member States of the Community.

More than three-quarters of foreigners in the Community live in the Federal Republic of Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

The population of the European Community and the four most populous countries in the world 1950, 1990 and 2020


Almost half the households in the EC are one- or two-person households: households of five persons or more represent only 13.3% of the total.

Private households have an average of 2.3 persons and a large majority of them comprise a single family, which is sometimes a one-parent family (9.5% of them in Ireland and 4.3% in France).

After reaching a peak in 1972, the number of marriages fell until 1986, since when it has slightly increased, standing at 1 941000 in 1989 for the EC as a whole.

The average age at which people marry for the first time went down until 1975 and has been increasing since. In 1987 it was 27.1 years for men and 24.6 for women.

Between 1960 and 1988 the number of divorces more than quadrupled in the Europe of the Twelve, reaching 534 000 (2).

In 1989, births out of wedlock represented almost half of live births in Denmark, over a quarter in France and the United Kingdom but only I in 50 in Greece.

The size of families has decreased throughout the EC. The number of third or subsequent births fell by more than 60% in all the EC countries between 1960 and 1988, except in Ireland, where it fell by only 40%.

62.4% of EC households do not include children under 15 years; 6.5% include three or more children, and only 0.5% include five or more children.

Number of marriages, divorces and births - EUR 12 (1000)


In 1986-87 there were 59 357 000 pupils and students: in the European Community, spread across three levels of education: 22 733 000 at first level, 29 995 000 at second level and 6 629 000 et third level.

Numbers of primary school (first-level) pupils are steadily falling with the drop in the birth-rate, while numbers at the third level (in higher education) are rising all the time:

First level 1970/71: 29 093 000 Third level 1970/71: 3 510 000
1980/81: 26 098 000 1980/81: 5 350 000
1986/87: 22 733 000 1986/87: 6 629 000

Equality of opportunity between men and women has not yet been achieved at third level: in 1986-87, 46% of the Community total were women.

47% of young Europeans aged 15 to 24 claim to know how to use a computer.

Numbers of pupils and students at all three levels of education throughout the European Community (1000)


The activity rate for women aged between 14 and 64 rose in the Community from 46.6% in 1983 to 51.0% in 1988, but it is still well below that for men (78.5%).

Married men have a higher activity rate than single men (87.1% compared with 64.5%), while married women are ‘less economically active’ than single women (49.1 % compared with 54.5%).

The services sector sector for approximately 60% of total employment in the Community, while agriculture accounts for less than 8%.

There were 12.7million unemployed persons in the Community in 1989, i.e. 9% of the active population.

The unemployment rate for women in the Community (11.9%) is higher than that for men (7.0%), while for young persons under 25 it is 17.4%.

In 1988, over half of all unemployed persons, bath men (51.7%) and women (52.5%), fell within the category of long-term unemployed (i.e. persons unemployed for more than one year).

90% of foreign workers (from bath Community and non-Community countries) have the occupational status of emplayee.

The majority of male foreign workers are employed in industry and the majority of their female counterparts in the services sector.

Population aged 14 to 64 according to economic activity - 1988 (%)

Working conditions

In 1988, the average working week in the EC for persons employed full-time was 42.5 hours (43.4 hours for men and 40.5 hours for women).

People employed part-time worked on average 19.4 hours per week; in agriculture this figure was 22.5 hours, in industry 20.7 hours and in the services sector 18.9 hours.

Those employed in agriculture worked an average of 43.6 hours per week in 1988, compared with 40.9 hours in industry and 40.4 hours in the services sector.

Part-time work increased in the EC between 1983 and 1988 when 13.2% of employed persons worked part-time. More women than men work part-time (28.1% of women in work compared with 3.9% of men). The highest proportions of women working part-time are in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Denmark (between 57.7% and 41.5%).

In 1988, 9.6% of employed persons in the EC had a temporary contract; most of them were men (54.7%) and over half (51.2%) were young people under 25.

The most frequent cause of hours lost through absence from work is annual leave and public holidays (43.7% of hours lost) sickness and accidents (24.3%) take second place.

Employees with a temorary contract as % of total employees - 1988

Standard of living

In the European Community, average per capita gross domestic product in 1988 was almost 16 000 PPS (Purchasing Power Standard). It ranged from 8 553 PPS in Portugal to a little more than double at 19 130 in Luxembourg.

Per capita GDP has risen virtually without interruption since 1970. The only exceptions were two slight downturns in 1975 and 1981.

Of the 13 882 PPS of per capita net national income in the Community in 1988, on average 12 429 PPS were spent (89.5%) and 1 453 saved (10.5%).

Average income from emplayment in 1988 was 25 119 PPS, ranging from 14250 PPS in Portugal to 30 168 in the Netherlands - almost exactly double.

Over the period 1970-88, the pattern of consumption changed. The share of income spent on food, beverages and tobacco fell from 29.8% to 21.3%, and that on clothing and footwear from 9.2% to 7.8%. Meanwhile, expenditure on transport and communications rose rapidly from 11.9% to 14.9%, on medical care and health services (private consumption) from 5.1 % to 7.4%, and on housing, fuel and power from 15.0% to 16.8%.

Net disposable national income per head of population - 1988 (in PPS)

Social protection

In 1987 the average per capita expenditure social protection in the European Community was 3 600 PPS.

The share of social protection in GDP varied between 17.0% (Portugal) and 30.7% (the Netherlands), i.e. a ratio of almost 1:2.

The largest share of social benefits (over 80%) is devoted to the old-age and survivors sector (45%) and the health sector (36%).

In the financing of social protection, the share of contributions from public funds varies between 14% in the Netherlands and 78% in Denmark. The share of contributions paid by employers varies between 11% in Denmark and 53% in Italy, while that of contributions paid by insured persons (employees etc.) varies between 4% in Denmark and 36% in the Netherlands.

Per capita social protection benefits - 1987 (PPS consumption)


The number of doctors per 1000 inhabitants ranges from 1.3 in Ireland to 3.3 in Spain.

The greatest rise in health expediture a proportion of total household expenditure was recorded in Belgium (59%) between 1970 and 1987.

Denmark has the highest rate of household expenditure on alcohol and tobacco in the European Community (3.9% in 1987).

Disease of the circulatory system and malignant tumours are the major causes of death in the European Community, accounting for 45% and 24% of deaths respectively.

Aids strikes hardest at men between the ages of 20 and 54 in the European Community (22 940 cases), with the worst-hit groups being homosexuals (47.5%) and drug addicts (31.1%).

The death rate by suicide per 10000 inhabitants in the European Community increases with age, rising in men from I .1 among the 15-24 age group to 6.2 among the over-75s and in women from 0.3 to 1.7 respectively.

In 1987, road accidents killed over 45 000 persons and injured 1 604 831 in the European Community. Nearly three-quarters of those killed were men, almost half of whom were aged between 15 and 34.

Standardised mortality rate by sex - 1980-1984 (per 100000 inhabitants)

The environment

Forests cover 24.2% of the Community’s surface area of 2 258 000 km².

In 1987 almost 5% of Community citizens professed adherence to a nature-conservation, wildlife-protection or other ecological movement. National proportions varied between 0.8% in Portugal and 19.7% in Denmark, and were below the Community average in five countries other than Portugal (Greece, Spain, France, Italy and the Federal Republic of Germany).

Per capita energy consumption rose in the Community by 14% between 1981 (2.9 toe) and 1988 (3.3 toe).

The number of motor vehicles per 1000 inhabitants continues to increase in all the countries of the Community. It rose from 301 in 1980 to 343 in 1985 (9).

In 1985, the Community’s road network exceeded 2.5 million km, compared with its railway network of 125 600 km.

The cumulative production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC 11 and CFC 12) rose dramatically from 217 000 tonnes in 1950 to 14.5 million tonnes in 1983. CFCs, which are present in aerosols, industrial foaming agents and coolants, are thought to contribute to depletion of the ozone layer in the stratosphere.

Number of motor vehicles per 1000 inhabitants


In Ireland, Spain and Greece over 70% of dwellings are owner-occupied; the figure is approximately 40% in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands and just over 50% in the Community as a whole.

The 1981-82 censuses showed that nearly a quarter of all dwellings in the Community were built after 1970 and one-third before 1945, particularly in the United Kingdom (50.4%), Belgium (48.4%) and Denmark (45.5%).

These same censuses recorded an average of 0.6 persons per room for dwellings in the Community.

The vast majority of dwellings in the Community are equipped with a bathroom and/or shower on the premises, as well as an internal WC.

Percentage of dwellings with bathroom

The most widespread item of household equipment is the refrigerator (present in over 90% of households in the majority of Community countries), followed by the washing machine.

Rents rose most significantly between 1980 and 1986 in Greece and Italy (from base 100 to 282 in the former and 226 in the latter), while in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands they rose only slightly (from base 100 to 126 and 136 respectively).