Data show noticeable upswing in emigration

After several years of comparatively low long-term emigration from Latvia, the number of people leaving the country in 2006 saw a noticeable upswing, according to the Central Statistical Bureau. Almost a third of emigrants left for Russia.

A total of 5,252 people left Latvia last year to live in other countries, the bureau announced April 26. At the same time, 2,801 people immigrated to Latvia, resulting in a net decline in population 2,451.

Using data from the Citizenship and Migration Board, the statistics bureau found that the top three destinations for emigrants were Russia (31.5 percent of those who left), Germany (9.3 percent) and Belarus (7.9 percent).

Russia also accounted for the greatest number of immigrants to Latvia, 26.9 percent. Lithuania was second with 10.6 percent and Germany was third with 8.9 percent.

While migration to Ireland has been a concern for social and political observers, data show that just 189 people left permanently for that country in 2006. (The number does not take into account those who temporarily relocated for reasons such as work.) At the same time, 122 people from Ireland immigrated permanently to Latvia.

The net loss of 2,451 residents of Latvia last year was a more than fourfold increase from 2005, when the net loss was just 564. That year, 2,450 people emigrated from Latvia. In 2001, by comparison, the net loss in population was 5,159.

The statistical bureau found that more than one in five (22 percent) of immigrants to Latvia last year were children to age 4.

“That testifies that in many cases children of Latvian people, who are working abroad, are given for care to family members who stayed in Latvia or other relatives,” the bureau said in a press release.

Overall, the bureau said, Latvia gained 615 youths to age 19, but lost 2,207 persons of working age and 365 retired persons.

The statistical bureau also found that slightly more men than women, 54.6 percent, immigrated to Latvia last year, but more women, 53.5 percent, emigrated.

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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