Data show migration to Ireland slipping; census continues in Latvia

While the census underway in Latvia aims to figure how many people are left in the country, it appears fewer are leaving for Ireland these days.

Data on Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSNs), which people use when seeking government services in Ireland, show that just 503 citizens of Latvia sought the identifiers during the first three months of this year. That’s a 41 percent drop from the 856 who received PPSNs during the same period last year.

In all, 3,134 persons from Latvia got PPSNs in 2010, a decline from the 3,916 recorded in 2009, according to statistics gathered by Ireland’s Department of Social Protection.

Since 2000, more than 46,000 persons from Latvia have received PPSNs, the greatest number—9,328—coming in 2005, or the year after Latvia joined the European Union.

While not an accurate gauge of the Latvian population in Ireland, the number of PPSNs is used as a measure of migration to Ireland. The island nation, once a hotbed of economic activity that drew tens of thousands of laborers, has seen a decrease in immigration as its financial fortunes have slipped.

Meanwhile, in Latvia the census continues. After giving residents of the country a couple of weeks to count themselves online, census workers now have fanned out across Latvia. They are scheduled to continue their work until May 31.

As of April 12, more than 780,000 Latvian residents have been counted, according to Aldis Brokāns, press secretary of the Central Statistical Bureau in Rīga.

Bureau officials have especially commended census workers in the Latgale region of eastern Latvia, where despite especially poor road conditions that in some cases have prevented use of automobiles, the head counters have continued their efforts, Brokāns said in a press release.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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