Europe is an ageing continent, with a total fertility rate of 1.6, well below the required 2.1 replacement level. The decline might be reversed, but the trend is downwards. These 747 million Europeans have a life expectancy of 79 years, and three-quarters of them live in urban settings. Of even more relevance in the time of Covid-19, the median age is 42.5 years and 20% are over 65. So, old and infertile city dwellers.
A shrinking population may not be a problem, so long as the borders can be defended. Absent the ability or the will to do so, people from other lands will come in for the spoils, as they always have done. Why not? At 34 citizens per square kilometre there is apparent space, but modern life is not directly based on agricultural productivity but rather on financial space: accumulated infrastructure, social provision, dependency ratios, and extent of immigration.
At the moment some European countries are being hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Here is a snapshot of the deaths per million, as at 4th May.
Certainly, it is relevant to include important factors: when the virus took hold in a particular country; when lockdown was instituted, and how severely; the age of citizens; the density of populations; the proportion of inter-generational and single households; the sociability of citizens, and the quality of healthcare. Furthermore, countries differ in how they classify deaths. Belgium may be too inclusive, or perhaps too honest.
In terms of the percentages of citizens 60+ years, Spain and UK 25%, Belgium 26% Germany 28% and Italy 29%.
Lockdowns (of varying degrees of completeness) were begun by Italy on March 9, Spain March 14, France March 17, Belgium March 18, Germany March 22, UK March 23. 14 days is long enough for differences to accumulate, though countries had different starting points.
Here is the picture for the UK showing excess deaths.
The current rate is an incredible z= +40. This is 40 standard deviations above the mean. Signals as clear as this are rare. However well we may have imagined our systems to have operated, they are not as good as many others in Europe. In all countries, survivors are rightfully grateful to the nurses and doctors that cared for them, and to varying degrees supportive of their national policies, though understandably wishing that more had been done sooner.
Nonetheless, the United Kingdom cannot boast that it is having a good war. All the above may be relevant explanations or excuses, and it is early to come to judgment, but there is little basis for claiming that the UK response has been better than the rest of Europe.