Population decline is slowing down

According to the revised data of Statistics Estonia, 1,313,271 persons lived in Estonia on 1 January 2015 – 2,666 persons (0.2%) fewer than at the same time a year earlier. Negative natural increase is the main cause for population decline, while the influence of emigration has decreased significantly.

The population decreased by 733 persons due to negative net migration (with more people leaving Estonia than taking up residence here) and by 1,933 persons due to negative natural increase (the number of deaths exceeded the number of births). Among the processes influencing population decline, there has been a rise in the share of negative natural increase. The previous time when the population number decreased more because of negative natural increase than because of external migration was in 2003.

In 2014, 13,595 persons were born and 15,528 persons died. The number of births remained at the level of the previous year. This is a positive indicator because the number of women in childbearing age is decreasing each year. Just four years earlier, as many as 2,000 children more were born (there were 15,825 births in 2010). The number of deaths has been declining since the beginning of the 1990s and in the last five years the number of deaths per year has remained between 15,000 and 16,000.

In 2014, more people left Estonia than took up residence here; immigrants numbered 3,904 and emigrants – 4,637. Compared to the three previous years, external migration has decreased by nearly 30%, while the level of immigration has remained the same. Since immigration consists mainly in return migration, which occurs generally 1–2 years after emigration, then after a previous period of more active emigration a higher level of immigration can be expected.

Harju county was the only county where the population number increased (by more than 3,000), mainly due to an increase in the population of Tallinn city. The decline was the biggest in Ida-Viru county – both in absolute and relative figures. Population loss exceeded 1% also in Järva and Lääne counties. A relatively small decline occurred in Saare and Hiiu counties, with population decreasing by fewer than 50 persons in both counties. In the rest of the counties, the population declined by 0.5–0.9%.Diagram: Natural increase and net migration, 2005–2014

The estimated population number is based on the 2011 Population and Housing Census and estimated under-coverage, and has been adjusted based on births, deaths and migration registered in the following years. The population number changes slightly due to revisions of personal ID-codes and the inclusion of persons who had been missing from population statistics so far.

Source: Statistics Estonia

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