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Population & Demography

Luxembourg has witnessed strong population growth since the beginning of industrialisation 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 483 800 (Source: Statec, January 2008). In other words, its population 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 birth rate, which is largely the result of a rise in immigration.


A plural society


Until World War I, 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.


Over the last 30 years immigration has increased considerably. Today, more than a third of the population is non-Luxembourgish (over 205 900, or approximately 42.6% 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 French, followed by the Italian, Belgian and German communities.


Structural changes in society


- Ageing population

The decrease in the number of young people aged 15 or under 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 2001, nearly a third of private households were made up of people living on their own. In 2005, the average fertility rate was 1.7 children per woman. In 2005, the total number of births decreased by 1.5% in comparison to 2004. During the last few years, foreign births accounted for more than 50 % of the total number of births in Luxembourg.

- Population and employment

Employment rose steadily during the second half of the 20th century. The European institutions settled in Luxembourg in the 1950s and from the 1960s onwards, Luxembourg has developed into 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. Since 2001, Luxembourg’s economy follows the general tendency of the world’s economic activities with a slowing down of the employment growth.


Luxembourg nationality


Normally, nationality is determined by birth. Each year, however, more than 1 000 foreign nationals acquire Luxembourg nationality through option or naturalization.


Those who already have ties with Luxembourg, either by birth or blood, can acquire Luxembourg nationality between the ages of 18 and 25 through a declaration of option under one of the following conditions: they must be born in Luxembourg to foreign parents, be married to a Luxembourger, have completed their entire education in Luxembourg or have resided in Luxembourg for the past seven years.


Foreigners can also acquire Luxembourg nationality through naturalization, if they are above the age of 18 and have resided in Luxembourg for at least seven years. Besides, they must have an active and passive knowledge of one of the three administrative languages (German, French, Lëtzebuergesch). Thus, a foreigner who masters French or German will also have to prove that he has a basic knowledge of Lëtzebuergesch. On the contrary, a person who masters Lëtzebuergesch will not be required to know French or German to be eligible to acquire Luxembourg nationality.


Since October 2008, a new law of double nationality has been introduced: those who acquire the Luxembourgian nationality no longer have to give up their original nationality. They must meet the conditions mentioned above and follow instruction civic lessons. Because the population in Luxembourg has evolved during the last decades, seeing the number of foreigners going up, the new law adapts to this situation and offers a more welcoming environment to the foreigners who have chosen to live in Luxembourg.