Immigration to Estonia increased last year

According to Statistics Estonia, 4,098 persons immigrated to Estonia and 6,740 persons emigrated from Estonia in 2013. There were 1,459 immigrants more than in 2012.

Net migration remained negative (i.e. emigration exceeded immigration). Net migration was –2,642 in 2013 and –3,682 in 2012. 95% of the emigrants and 60% of the immigrants were Estonian citizens.

The number of Estonian residents who have changed their place of residence to another country has been relatively stable in the last three years. The main destination countries are mostly the same – three quarters of the immigrants moved to Finland and 6% to the United Kingdom. Germany, Russia and Sweden are also among the popular destination countries.

In 2013 immigration to Estonia increased. The majority of immigrants come from Finland, but in 2013 only a quarter of all immigrants came from Finland, which is about a fifth of the persons who emigrated to Finland. A significant share of the immigrants came from Russia (23%) and Ukraine (8%). Compared to previous years, a bigger number of immigrants came from the United Kingdom and Ireland – this is probably related to the fact that there was a wave of emigration to those countries a few years ago. Most of the immigrants coming from European countries are returnees, which explains why immigration tends to increase a few years after an upturn in emigration.

Immigration from Ukraine also increased in 2013, but Ukraine and Russia are the source countries of new immigrants – thus, this increase cannot be explained by previous emigration. As a rule, net migration in Estonia is negative. But net migration with Russia, Ukraine and many non-European countries has been positive for most of the time since the restoration of independence (meaning that immigrants have outnumbered emigrants).

A comparison by county shows differences in the main destination and source countries. For example, in case of Ida-Viru county, only a half of the emigrants go to Finland and a greater share of emigrants (compared to other counties) go to the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and other EU countries. The reason for this is probably that a large part of the population in Ida-Viru county is linguistically more distant from Finnish and it is easy to find a Russian-speaking community in other European countries as well. The distribution of source countries is also different in Ida-Viru county: a half of the immigrants came from Russia and only 10% came from Finland. Harju and Tartu counties are also different from other counties. Immigrants who come from countries outside Europe mostly settle in Tallinn or Tartu, the two biggest cities in Estonia. In the remaining counties, Finland holds a much larger share in immigration and especially in emigration.

Based on the age-sex distribution of emigrants, there was an increase in both male and female immigrants in 2013, compared to 2012. There are still more women among emigrants and the share of women among returnees is smaller than the share of men. The most active participants in emigration are persons aged 20–44. In the last two years, there has been an increase in the emigration of 0–9-year-olds. Since the immigration of 0–4-year-olds has been high over the last decade and remains high, there was a bigger decrease in the number of 5–9-year-olds in net migration in 2012 and 2013. This is probably related to the bigger number of emigrating families.

Statistics Estonia’s migration statistics are based on information about place of residence available in the Population Register. Net migration is the difference between immigration and emigration during a year. Positive net migration shows that immigration exceeds emigration; negative net migration indicates that emigration exceeds immigration.

Immigration from Finland as a share of total immigration by county, 2013

Map: Immigration from Finland as a share of total immigration by county, 2013

Emigration to Finland as a share of total emigration by county, 2013

Map: Emigration to Finland as a share of total emigration by county, 2013

Source: Statistics Estonia

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