The count of Latvian residents seeking identification numbers in Ireland continued to decrease last year, according to government statistics released Jan. 6. This is perhaps an indication that the allure of the “Celtic Tiger” for Latvian migrants is wearing off as Ireland’s economy worsens.
A total of 3,727 Latvian residents were issued Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSN) in 2008, according to the Irish Department of Social and Family Affairs. That is a drop of 20 percent from 2007 and is the third year in a row that the number has decreased.
PPSNs are used in transactions between individuals and government agencies in Ireland. They were introduced in 1998.
Since mid-2000, a total of 38,786 residents of Latvia have been issued the identification numbers. The figure is perhaps the closest estimate of the total Latvian population in Ireland, although possessing a PPSN does not necessarily mean the person is still living in Ireland.
The greatest number of PPSNs issued to Latvian residents—a total of 9,328— was in 2005, the year after Latvia joined the European Union and travel to Ireland became easier. Since then the number has decreased every year.
The once-booming Irish economy has been hit hard by the global financial crisis. The unemployment rate rose throughout 2008 and stood at 7.8 percent in November.
Estonian residents were issued 572 PPSNs last year, while Lithuanians got 6,443, according to the Irish Department of Social and Family Affairs.
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