Iceland's Population to Reach 400,000 This Year Skip to content

Iceland’s Population to Reach 400,000 This Year

By Steindor Gretar Jonsson

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Photo: Golli.
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In the first six months of 2024, Iceland’s population should pass 400,000, Morgunblaðið reports. As it stands, the population is only around 1,000 away from that mark.

The growth in Iceland’s population has been much more rapid than expected. Statistics Iceland projected in 2008 that the population would only surpass 400,000 people in the year 2050. “This projection was very good, even if we’re reaching this goal 26 years earlier than expected,” Professor Stefán Hrafn Jónsson, Dean of the School of Social Sciences at the University of Iceland, told Morgunblaðið. “The projection showed a 0.6 percent yearly growth, but it turned out different. The shifts in Icelandic society were simply larger than expected in the projection.”

Population ageing faster

According to new projections, the population could grow by another 200,000 people in the next 40 years or so. “The latest projection from Statistics Iceland expects us to reach a population of 600,000 in the year 2067 or so,” Stefán said. “There is much uncertainty in such projections like in any projections about the future. That uncertainty grows the further we go into the future.”

Population projections are based on birth rates, mortality rates and migration. Historical developments, such as wars and pandemics, can influence these developments. “Even if births and deaths are biological processes, and therefore both the subject of health sciences, these events and everything that happens in between them are affected by social factors,” Stefán said. He added that Iceland will see an increasingly ageing population, which will put pressure on the healthcare system. The number of inhabitants over the age of 80 could triple in the next 50 years. “But the effects will also be seen in the pension system, the economy, labour market, governance, political ideologies, inequality, crime, customs, traditions, legislation, social services, housing, welfare, domestic and foreign trade, governance of businesses and institutions, markets, disability issues, cultural policy, language, religion, and morality, just to mention a few of the subjects of the humanities and social sciences,” Stefán added. “It could be a real cause for concern in the next decades whether we respond correctly to the ageing of our population.”

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