The population of Iceland is projected to grow from 388 (registered population 1 January 2023) to an estimated value between 518 and 760 thousand in the next 50 years, with 90% probability, according to Statistics Iceland’s population projection. The most likely population value in 2074 is 611 thousand and Iceland could reach 500 thousand people in about 20 years time.
The upper limit (760 thousand) indicates that there is a 5% chance that the actual number of inhabitants will be higher than this value and a 95% chance that it will be lower. The lower limit (518 thousand) indicates that there is a 5% chance that the actual population will be smaller than this value and a 95% probability that it will be higher.
The population projection is based on statistical models of fertility, mortality and migration whose predictions are combined into total population predictions, according to standard statistical and demographical methods. The models allow us to correct for the overestimation of resident population and net migration due to lack of deregistration. They also allow the inclusion of prior expert information and produce local projections. The results of the new population projection consist of predicted values as well as their associated uncertainty measure. The projection does not include any effects due to possible crises caused by natural, social or economic factors.
The figure shows the past values of the population counts with their measurement errors as well as the forecasted trend of the resident population with its prediction uncertainty.
The total fertility rate should reach 1.4 children per woman (of 13-55 years of age) in 2073, according to the median projection. Total fertility rate could have values between 1.3 and 1.5, with 90% probability, in 2073. The median predicted rate (1.4) for Iceland in 2073 is yet higher than the average EU total fertility rate of 1.4 which was reached in 2022. Life expectancy at birth will grow from 84 years in 2022 to 89 years in 2073 for women and from 81 to 84 years for men, according to the median projection, i.e. an increase of about 0.1 years of life per year. The number of immigrants will be higher than the number of emigrants for the whole period, due primarily to the migration of foreign citizens. The net migration trend will lie between 1000 and 9000 individuals for the next 50 years with 90% probability.
The figure displays the past values of the net migration counts with their measurement errors as well as the forecasted net migration trend with its prediction uncertainty.
According to the population projection the following changes in population structure are predicted:
- The proportion of the working age population (defined as 16 to 74 years old) will decrease from 74% in 2023 to 72% in 2074, according to the median projections.
- After 2057, the older age population (over 65 years) will become more numerous than the youngest (less than 20 years old), according to the median projections.
- The median age of the Icelandic population was 36 years in 2023 and is predicted to be 45 years in 2074.
Population ageing is caused by decreasing fertility and increased life expectancy. However, this development is still slower in Iceland than in the EU countries, due to high migration at young ages and to relatively high fertility compared with the EU average. The median age in the EU countries was 44 years in 2021, while this value will be reached in Iceland only in 2069, according to the median projection.