Austria breaks population growth record in 2022

The country grew by a net 126,000 people last year – the most in its post-war history. The increase is down solely to immigration into the country, according to the country’s statistics agency.

Austria population
Austria's population growth has hit a record level, due to immigration, and more Austrians are viewing in negatively. Photo: Jacek Dylag/Unsplash

If it wasn’t for immigration into Austria, including refugee arrivals, the Austrian population would’ve shrunk last year.

That’s according to Statistics Austria, the country’s official agency.

126,000 net newcomers is a huge increase on 2021 numbers, where 46,000 net new people took up residence in Austria.

More than half that total was made up of the 67,000 refugees who fled to Austria from Ukraine as Russia began its full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.

READ ALSO: Ukrainian refugees push Austria’s population past nine million

Ukrainians constituted the largest group by far. The second-largest group, at 14,000 people, were Syrians. About 9,000 Germans also took up residence in Austria last year, who made up the largest share of the net 36,000 people who came from other EEA countries, Switzerland, or the UK in 2022. A further 2,700 came from Turkey.

The immigration into Austria more than made up for the country’s demographic slide – at least this time. Around 82,600 people were born in Austria last year, about 10,000 less than the number of people who died, leaving immigration solely responsible for the country’s population increase in 2022.

Out of the country’s 9 million people, about 1.7 million do not have Austrian citizenship.

READ ALSO: Vienna will ‘soon’ reach two million residents

The largest net increase in population was seen in Vienna, which got 50,000 new residents last year and is expected to pass the 2 million mark either this year or next.

Lower and Upper Austria saw the next highest increases at around 20,000 and 18,000 people, respectively. Styria saw another 17,000 new residents.

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Austria placed well below neighbour Switzerland in ‘best country’ rankings

For the sixth time, Switzerland has won the coveted title of the 'world’s best country' in an international ranking. Austria was ranked some distance below. But there were some bright spots.

Austria placed well below neighbour Switzerland in 'best country' rankings

Austria was ranked 22nd in an 88 country ranking by the US News & World Report for 2023 well behind its neighbour Switzerland, which once again topped the chart

Austria’s position was the same as last year’s, according to the measure of the country’s global performance in 73 categories. They include entrepreneurship; quality of life; adaptability and progress; social purpose; as well as other attributes. 

The results noted that Austria is a country with one of the world’s highest standards of living, although recent legislative elections bringing the far-right into some corridors of power throws its commitment to an open society into question.

Where is Austria doing well?

Austria’s performance in the report is a real mixed bag, with its low scores in some areas masking its stronger performance in others.

Austria comes in 11th place in the ‘social purpose’ category and 12th in ‘quality of life’.

In social purpose, Austria is rated as a country that cares about human rights, the environment, gender equality, and respecting property rights. 

On quality of life, it is considered a safe, family-friendly country with high levels of political and economic stability, complete with a good job market. It’s overall quality of life score suffered though from a lack of perceived and measured affordability, with the report noting how expensive the country can be.

Austria also scores respectably in the ‘adventure’, ‘entrepreneurship’, ‘heritage’, and ‘open for business’ categories – finishing in the high teens for all of these.

Where can Austria improve?

Austria scores well below its 22nd place in the national ‘power’ ranking. Parts of this are probably unavoidable – given the country’s small size and neutrality. However, it is not considered an overly ‘agile’ or ‘adaptable’ society that can quickly embrace change.

I also ranks in 28th place – perhaps below what some might expect given Austrian history – in ‘cultural influence’, which measures the country’s brand in culture, entertainment, and business brand influence – along with overall societal happiness.

READ ALSO: Austria ranked as one of the ‘unfriendliest countries in the world’

Why did Switzerland top the ranking?

Austria’s neighbour Switzerland “snags the top spot for business-friendliness and education, “and ranks in the top 10 for quality of life, social purpose and cultural influence,” according to study authors. “Among attributes, it was considered No.1 for being economically stable, safe and least corrupt.”

“And while people may not see it as the sexiest place, they would like to live there.”

One of Switzerland’s top qualities, the study showed, is ‘consistency.’

Unlike the political and economic volatility of many other countries, “there is something pleasantly constant about Switzerland,” the survey found.

Here’s the full report on why Switzerland was judged to be the “best country in the world”.