- May 1, 2017: Vol. 11, Number 05

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The old and the young: Europe’s population changes are giving real estate investors cause for thought

by Sheila Hopkins

Real estate fundamentals can pretty much be distilled down to one thing — demand. Is there enough demand for your preferred asset class to fill the space? If so, carry on. If not, it might be better to put your investment capital somewhere else.

And what drives demand? There are several influences, of course, but the overriding factor is population growth. Unfortunately, at least at the macro level, population demographics across Europe do not bode well for real estate demand growth. On average, the population is still increasing in the European Union — it grew from 406.7 million in 1960 to 510.1 million in 2016 — but the growth has slowed significantly in the past two decades.

The downward trend in population growth can be attributed almost entirely to a decrease in the fertility rate, which has fallen in each EU-28 country to below the replacement rate of 2.1 live births per woman needed to keep the population size constant. The average EU birth rate in 2014 wa

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