Latvia’s population declines as birth rate slips, emigration rises

Another year, another drop in population: Latvia’s Central Statistical Bureau has reported that the country experienced a net loss in residents during 2009, dropping to a total count of 2.248 million.

Overall, the country lost 12,900 in population, the bureau announced May 27. Marriages fell significantly compared to 2008, while men and women are waiting longer to get married and, if they have children, are having fewer. Emigration from Latvia also contributed to the decline in population.

More people died than were born in Latvia last year, contributing to a decline of 8,200 in population. Long-term migration added another net loss of 4,700, according to data compiled by the bureau.

For the second year in a row, the number of marriages dropped. A total of 9,925 marriages were registered in 2009, compared to 12,946 in 2008, a decrease of 23 percent. In 2007, Latvia saw 15,486 marriages.

Residents of Latvia are continuing to wait longer to get married.

“Since 2000 the age of the first marriage has grown by more than two years,” according to a press release from the statistical bureau. The average age of men the first time they marry rose to 29 last year, while for women the average age is 27.

At the same time, married couples appear to be holding together more. The number of divorces last year totaled 5,099, compared to 6,214 in 2008—a drop of 18 percent.

The number of births dipped 10 percent last year to a total of 21,677. After two years of gains, Latvia’s fertility rate slipped to 1.32 in 2009.

However, people in Latvia are living a bit longer. The total number of deaths last year was 29,897, or a drop of 3.6 percent from 2008, according to the bureau. As a result, the average life expectancy rose to 68.3 years for men and 78.1 years for women.

The highest birth rates were recorded in Rīga and its environs, while the lowest was in Latgale. However, the death rate was highest in Latgale and lowest in Rīga’s environs.

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

2 thoughts on “Latvia’s population declines as birth rate slips, emigration rises

  1. hi im from Lithuania, we are the baltic sea coast countries, in my country there is a same problems, more people emigrate, than rather, stay :( , i hope it will stop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *