Bulgaria's population has shrunk by 10% in 10 years

Society | January 6, 2022, Thursday // 18:15
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's population has shrunk by 10% in 10 years Pixabay

From September 7 to October 10, 2021, the 18th Census of population and housing was held in the country.

The census was conducted in implementation of Regulation (EC) № 763/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council and the Law on the Census of Population and Housing in the Republic of Bulgaria in 2021, through two methods of data collection:

  • online electronic census card from 0.00 hours on September 7, 2021, to 24.00 hours on September 30, 2021;
  • visits to the households by a counter from 8.00 a.m. on September 18, 2021, to 8 p.m. on October 10, 2021.

The process took place in an unprecedented situation of COVID-19 distribution in the world and a two-year emergency epidemic situation in the country. This necessitated a change in the critical moment and the period for conducting the census, which respectively had a negative impact on all stages of the preparation and organization, as well as on the conduct itself.

The choice of critical moment and period of the census was significantly limited by the political situation in the country and the holding of three parliamentary and one presidential elections in one year. This situation, as well as the resulting distrust of the population towards the institutions, also had a negative impact on the overall census process.

The population and housing estimate are being developed to provide first preliminary data on the population, broken down by district and age, as well as information on the country's housing stock.

It is made on the basis of data on the number of electronically counted persons and dwellings, operational information from the summary lists of enumerated sites (buildings, dwellings, and population) filled in by controllers, and an estimate of the expected number of counter sites for partially or completely required areas.

The preliminary estimate of the population should not be considered as final data from the 2021 Census. The final data from the 2021 Census will be published and made available to the general public in the autumn of 2022.

The assessment confirms the deepening of the negative demographic trends existing in the last 30 years in the country - declining and aging population, depopulation of some areas of the country due to negative natural growth and migration processes.


Population as of September 7, 2021

According to the developed estimate, the population of the country as of September 7, 2021, is 6,520,314 people. 2,813,847 households were counted, or an average of 2.3 people live in one household.

FIG. 1. Population according to the census

A decrease in the population is observed in the last four censuses, the largest being in the 2021 census - by 844 thousand people, or 11.5% compared to 2011

FIG. 2. Population growth between censuses

The factors that determine the main trends in the development of the population for the country are its natural movement (births and deaths) and external migration, and in territorial terms - and internal migration of the population and administrative-territorial changes.

The natural increase for the period 2011 - 2021 amounts to minus 448 thousand people or 53.0% of the total decrease for the period. The remaining 47% is due to the negative balance of external migration during the period.


Population by sex and age groups

According to estimates, as of September 7, 2021, women are 3,397,357, or 52.1%, and men - 3,122,957, or 47.9% of the country's population.

The distribution of the population by age groups shows a deepening of the aging process. The share of persons aged 65 and over increased by 5.4 percentage points compared to 2011 and by 9.6 percentage points compared to 1992.

The number and relative share of children and persons in active age are decreasing.

Population distribution by age according to the census

FIG. 3. Relative share of the population by age according to the census

Territorial distribution of the population

As of September 7, 2021, the settlements in the country are 5,257, of which 257 are cities and 5,000 - villages. 74.3% live in the cities, or 4,843,175 people, and in the villages - 25.7%, or 1,677,139 people.

FIG. 4. Distribution of the population by towns and villages according to the censuses (blue is towns and cities, orange is villages)

The smallest is Vidin district with a population of 74 thousand people, and the largest is Sofia district (capital) with a population of 1,480 million people.

The capital alone increased its population compared to 2011 by 189 thousand people or 14.7%. In all other districts, a decrease was registered, the least being in the districts of Plovdiv (8.3%), Varna, and Sofia, respectively 10.0%. The largest decrease in the population was registered in the districts of Dobrich and Vidin - 26.3% each, and Montana - by 24.2%.


Building and housing stock

The number of residential buildings was 2,096,844 and increased compared to 2011 by 36,000 buildings, or 1.8%. The number of dwellings (inhabited and uninhabited) was 4,182,383 and increased compared to 2011 by 295 thousand, or by 7.6%.


Methodological notes

The preliminary estimate of the population and the housing stock is developed on the basis of:

  • data on the number of electronically counted persons and dwellings;
  • operational information from the summary lists of the counted sites (buildings, dwellings, and population), filled in by the controllers;
  • assessment of the expected number of sites (buildings, dwellings, and persons) in the partially or completely required census areas.

The estimate of the expected number of persons in a census area is an average value calculated for pre-differentiated homogeneous clusters (types of settlements), formed on the basis of the assumption of close demographic and socio-economic characteristics of these clusters. The procedure is based on the assumption that data are not random at random within these homogeneous groups. The average expected number of persons was calculated using only the counted population in the fully surveyed areas. The subject of intervention is 2,608 census sites, with sites with less than 10 persons pre-excluded from the scope of the assessment. The total number of persons added is 616,820, or 9.46% of the preliminary estimate of the population.

Bulgaria Census 2021 Has Ended – How Many are the Bulgarians?

When analyzing and using the data, it should be borne in mind that the estimation is based on assumptions made on the basis of a statistical-mathematical model, which are burdened with statistical error.

The estimate of the expected number of buildings and dwellings in the partially or completely required census areas has been developed on the basis of the results of the preliminary survey conducted in the summer of 2020. The object of intervention is 5 174 counting polling stations. The total number of added buildings is 73,475, or 3.5%, and of added houses - 161,271, or 3.9% of the preliminary estimate.


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