Deaths, migration cause continued population decline

It would be like taking a city such as Ludza and erasing it from the map: The population of Latvia slipped by 9,600 inhabitants last year, according to demographic data collected by the Central Statistical Bureau in Rīga.

Latvia’s total population stood at 2.261 million at the start of 2009, down 0.4 percent from a year earlier, the bureau reported May 13.

While deaths dropped from 2007 to 2008 and births continued to increase, the net population loss was still about 7,100, the bureau reported. A total of 3,465 people immigrated to Latvia last year, but during the same period a little more than 6,000 emigrated, resulting in another 2,500 in lost population.

Latvia’s highest population, according to its census, was 2.66 million in 1989.

In other data reported by the Central Statistical Bureau:

  • After registering an increase in 2007, the number of marriages dropped last year. In 2006, a total of 12,544 marriages were recorded, climbing to 15,486 in 2007, but dropping to 12,946 last year.
  • The average age of men and women entering into their first marriage continues to creep up. Last year, the average age of men when they first married was 28.8, compared to 28.5 in 2007. For women, the average age last year was 26.7, compared to 26.4 in 2007.
  • The number of divorces last year totaled 6,214, compared to 7,403 in 2007 and 6,342 in 2006.
  • For those observers concerned that not enough children are being born to replenish the population, reported as the birth rate coefficient, the bureau had a little bit of good news. The coefficient continues to increase and stood at 1.45 children last year, up from 1.41 children in 2007. However, according to the statistical bureau, for the population to be replenished the birth rate coefficient needs to be at about 2.1 to 2.2 children.
  • Latvians will be living longer, but women more so than men. The estimated median longevity for male children born in 2008 is 67.2 years, but females could expect to live to age 77.9. According to the bureau, men who reached age 60 last year could live another 16 years, but women could last for 22 more.

The next full census in Latvia is scheduled in 2011.

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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