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Population and Demography
Luxembourg has witnessed strong population growth since the beginning of industrialization around 1870. This is largely due to continuous immigration since the end of the 19th century. In 1900, Luxembourg had a population of some 200.000. Today it stands at 441.300 (Source : Statec, 15 February 2001). In other words, it has more than doubled in the space of a century.
However, this growth has been uneven and can be divided into four main periods : a phase of decline during the first four decades, a (slight) baby boom between 1950 and 1960, a very rapid decline which became stable between 1960 and 1980, and a renewed growth phase since the 1990s due to an increase in the birthrate, which is largely the result of a rise in immigration.
A Plural Society
Before the First World War, much of the country’s population tended to emigrate overseas, mainly for economic reasons. However, industrialization, since the end of the 19th century, has gradually turned Luxembourg from a country of emigration into a country of immigration. In the past 30 years, immigration
has increased considerably.
Today, more than a third of the population is non-Luxembourgish (over 164.700, or approximately 37.3% of the population). The well-integrated foreign residents and cross-border workers account for much of the active population. More than 150 nationalities are cohabiting in Luxembourg. The main communities present in Luxembourg are the Portuguese and Italians, followed by the French, Belgians and Germans. Today, over 50% of the population of Luxembourg City is foreign.
Structural Changes in Society
- Ageing population :
The decrease in the number of young people aged 15 or less goes hand in hand with an increase of the number of people aged 65 or over, while the intermediary age group has remained stable. Furthermore, the number of people aged 65 or over has quadrupled this century.
- Decrease in family size :
At the last census in 1991, more than a quarter of private households were made up of people living on their own. In 2000, the average fertility rate was 1.78 children per woman. Although the total number of births increased by 2.5% in comparison with 1999, this positive trend was solely due to foreigners, whose birthrate rose by 3.65%. In 2000, the foreign birthrate accounted for 49%.
- Population and employment :
Employment rose steadily during the second half of the 20th century. The European institutions settled in Luxembourg in the 1950s and, ten tears later, Luxembourg became a major financial centre. The past 15 years have witnessed a sharp rise in the number of cross-border workers and an increase in female employment.
Normally, nationality is determined by birth. Each year, however, more than 1.000 foreign nationals obtain Luxembourg nationality through option or naturalization.
Those who already have ties with Luxembourg either by birth or blood can obtain Luxembourg nationality between the ages of 18 and 25, through a declaration of option under one of the following conditions : they must have been born in Luxembourg by foreign parents, be married to a Luxembourger, have completed their entire education in Luxembourg or have resided in Luxembourg for the past five years. They will also have to give up their original nationality.
Foreigners can also obtain Luxembourg nationality through naturalization, if they are above the age of 18 and have resided in Luxembourg for at least five years. Besides, they must have an active and passive knowledge of one of the three official languages (German, French, Luxembourgish). Thus, a foreigner who masters perfectly French will have to prove that he has a basic knowledge of Luxembourgish. On the contrary, a person who masters Luxembourgish will not be required to know French or German to be eligible to obtain Luxembourgish nationality.