Statistics: Population tops 2 million, but Latvia still losing thousands

Chart showing net population loss

Latvia continues to lose thousands of people through emigration and death.

While exact figures from this year’s census in Latvia won’t be available until after mid-January, provisional results show that the country’s population remains above 2 million.

However, Latvia will have lost an estimated 23,000 people this year to death and emigration, the Central Statistical Bureau (Centrālā statistikas pārvalde) announced Dec. 16 in Rīga.

The country’s population will be less than in the 2000 census, when 2.38 million people were counted. At the beginning of this year, according to the statistics bureau, Latvia was home to 2.23 million people.

Some earlier media reports suggested Latvia’s population had dropped to 1.9 million. In October, the statistics bureau reported that it had counted 1.9 million residents of Latvia from those who had completed census questionnaires through the Internet, had visited census posts or had been interviewed by census workers. However, the statistics bureau also noted that it had not yet counted everyone.

Latvia continues to be dogged by two dominant demographic issues, according to the data. First, the birth rate is well below the rate needed to replace those individuals who die. Second, emigration remains unabated, with thousands of residents leaving every year, moving mostly to Western Europe and North America.

Based on data from the first 10 months of this year and from estimates for November and December, Latvia in 2011 will have seen the largest net loss of population since 1997, according to the statistics bureau. The net loss this year will be an estimated 23,000, a drop of 1.03 percent from 2010; in 1997, the net loss was 24,123. Since Latvia regained independence in 1991, the largest net loss of population was in 1992 with 57,325 people.

Births have decreased during the past three years, according to the statistics bureau. Through the first 10 months of this year, a total of 15,700 birhs were recorded, which is a drop of 500 (2.9 percent) compared to the same period in 2010.

However, the number of deaths will be less this year than last, the statistics bureau predicts. Through October, the number of deaths stood at 23,800, compared to 25,000 during the same period last year.

The rate of emigration has “noticeably increased,” Maranda Behmane of the bureau’s social statistics department said in a press release. Through the first 10 months of this year, according to official data, a total of 14,900 people left Latvia. That’s 39.3 percent more than the total count of emigrants for all of last year—10,700.

One positive indicator in the data is the number of marriages, which might have an effect on the birth rate later, according to the statistics bureau. Through October, a total of 9,400 marriages were recorded, which is a bit more than in 2010. The statistics bureau predicts the total number of marriages for 2011 might reach 10,500.

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

Leave a Reply

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