Population development

Population statistics in Denmark go back further than in most other countries. Denmark’s first actual census was carried out in 1769, but as far back as the 16th century, scattered information about births and deaths can be found in the church registers. From 1840 censuses were conducted regularly at 10-year intervals and from 1901 they were held every five years. The last traditional census was held in 1970, and today the CPR register, supplemented by other administrative registers, forms the basis for population statistics.
The total size of the population is affected by four factors: the number of births and deaths and the number of immigrants and emigrants. At the beginning of the period, population development is characterized by large annual variations in the number of both births and deaths; in general, however, the death rate had begun to fall while the birth rate remained high. In 1769 the population was around 798,000, in 1811 it passed 1 million, and in 1881 Denmark reached 2 million inhabitants.
The difference between the number of emigrants and the number of immigrants, called net immigration, was so small until the mid-1860s that the total population was largely unaffected by it. From the end of the 1860s, Danish emigration to the USA, which until then had been limited, really took hold, and this led to a negative net immigration until the First World War. However, the birth surplus, the difference between births and deaths, was higher than emigration throughout this period and thus more than made up for it.
In 1945, the population reached 4 million, despite a prolonged decline in the number of births. And at the turn of the millennium, the Danish population was just over 5,300,000. Denmark’s population has generally been increasing throughout the period. However, it was not until 1850 that the country’s population grew every year. This trend was broken in 1981 and the following three years, when the population fell for the first time in more than 100 years. After this, there has again been positive population growth.

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