Total population change is defined as the netto change in residence population due to natural demographic (births, deaths) and migration (immigration, emigration) processes. A positive population change means a growing population number of a region, while negative population change means decreasing population.
The overall population stock is the main variable for provision and maintenance of public and private services and facilities. Increasing population requires to extend number and capacities of public and private services, while decreasing population may lead to reduced demands for such services, and will in the long run also negatively affect labour markets.
At European scale, we can point out a division between the old member states of EU on one hand and the new member states, Russia and Belarus on the other hand. When in the first category population typically increases, then in the latter category population numbers typically decrease, growth can be observed in the capital regions and other metropolitan regions. However, the model is not clear-cut. Many German regions have population decreasing (the East Germany regions having weakest performance) when Slovenian and Czech regions behave like old Europe. At the same time, Greece behaves similar to the CEEC countries. Turkey falls out of the general pattern being the only country lying outside the “old” Europe but having generally good population increase.
The only countries in BSR having an increasing population in all regions are Norway and (with the exception of Bornholm) - Denmark. All other countries have both decreasing and increasing regions. Generally, as population changes between 2001 and 2010 at LAU-2 level show, regions around stronger cities and those along the Baltic Sea coast are growing, while peripheral and landlocked regions aside the main transport arteries empty. Apart from these general spatial patterns, at LAU-2 level these processes lead to a patchwork of municipalities with population decline next to other municipalities that experience population growth. The worst overall decreases occur in northwestern Russia, Lithuania and East Germany (with the exception of Berlin and its surroundings, and some middle-sized centers).