Czechs Are Older, Avoid Marriage, Drink a Lot More Mineral Water and a Little Less Beer Than 30 Years Ago

In both 1989 and 2019 the population of the Czech Republic stood at around ten and a half million, 10,362,000 and 10,694,000 respectively. Although this only represents growth of just over 3% in 30 years, the profile of this population has changed markedly. The Czech Statistical Office (CSO) have published a detailed breakdown of the trends in the population since the end of communist rule and this reveals what has changed. Photo credit: Brno Daily.

Czech Rep., Jun 3 (BD) – The first obvious difference is that the country is older. In 1989 21.7% of the population was under 14; by last year this had dropped to 16%. Correspondingly, the proportion over 65 had grown from 12.5% to 19.9%. Accordingly, the average age for men has risen from 34.4 to 41.1, and for women from 37.8 to 43.9. This is partly due to people living longer: life expectancy is now 76.1 for men and 81.9 compared to 68.1 and 75.5 respectively in 1989. The numbers of long-term foreign residents increased significantly from 35,561 to 595,881 in 1989. In South Moravia, there were just under 1.2 million people in 2019. Initially there had been an outflow of population until 2005, after then there was modest natural growth with a net gain over the whole period of just over 70,000. The average age in the region is 42.4 (40.8 in 2008) against 42.3 (40.5 in 2008) for the whole country. The life expectancy here has risen from 72.59 to 76.33  (5th longest) for men and from 79.32 to 82.72 (2nd longest) for women. 

Fewer people are getting married, but the average length of a marriage has grown. Photo credit: Freepik.

Over the 30 years since the overthrow of communism, there have been significant changes in marriage and having children. In 1989, the average age of a bride was 21.8 whereas 30 years later it had risen to 29.8, the respective ages for the groom being 24.6 and 32.2. Perhaps surprisingly, the average length of a marriage has grown from 10.3 to 13.4 years and the divorce rate has fallen from 3 to 2.3 per 1000 people. But this is probably explained by the fact that fewer people are getting married; only 5.1 per 1000 against 7.8 in 1989. Indeed, 48.2% of children are born to unmarried parents, compared to 7.9% 30 years previously. The trend here is for people to have children later; between 1989 and 2019 the average age for a mother to have her first child has gone from 22.5 to 28.4 and there were 4767 births to women over 40 in 2019 (665 in 1989). There has also been a significant fall in the number of abortions over this period, from 126,507 to 31,797. In the population 30 years ago there were 10.8 terminations per 1000, whereas last year there was only 1.7.

What people eat and drink has also undergone significant change. Although the overall consumption (all figures below are per person per year) of baked products has not changed significantly, bread consumption has fallen from 58.8kg to 39.3kg and most of the shortfall has been balanced by an increase in baked wheat goods such as rolls. Consumers have moved away from meat (97.4 to 82.4kg). These figures also show a significant move from beef (-22.3kg), and, to a lesser extent, pork (-6.6kg) over to poultry (+15.4). In dairy products, there has been a small reduction in total, but cows milk has seen a fall from 91.4 to 57.9l, whilst cheese consumption has increased from 7.8 to 13.4kg. Czechs also eat far fewer eggs,336 per person in 1989 compared to 263 in 2019.

The average beer consumption has slightly fallen with 4%, while consumption of wine and spirits have increased. Photo credit: Freepik.

When considering fruit and vegetables, there has been an overall increase in consumption from 70.5 to 86.1kg for the former and from 68.7 to 87.1kg for the latter. But there have been some notable changes in types of produce. More tomatoes and bell peppers are being bought (+6.7kg and +4.2kg respectively). Surprisingly, Czechs now eat more tomatoes (11.8kg) than cabbage (6.8kg). At the beginning of the period, it would have been unthinkable for a Czech to buy mushrooms in a shop and they didn’t start appearing in the figures until 1992 and by 2019 3kg were being bought. The tropical fruit category more than doubled over the period growing from 16.9 to 36.4kg. Indeed the consumption of bananas grew from 3.3 to 12.2 kg.

Sales of non-alcoholic drinks grew from 108.5l to 251.5l. The most significant growth was in bottled mineral water, which soared from 14.1l to 62.5l. Alcoholic drinks, however, have shown very little change. The average consumption of beer in 1989 was 151l and by 2018 had fallen slightly to 145.2, whilst wine starting at the modest level of 13.5l increased to 20.4l. Spirits rose slightly from 6.3l to 7l.

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