Last year, immigration exceeded emigration for the first time after the restoration of independence in Estonia

news release no 59

According to Statistics Estonia, 15,413 persons immigrated to and 13,003 persons emigrated from Estonia in 2015. Net migration was 2,410 and natural increase -1,336, meaning that immigration compensated for the population decrease which occurred due to negative natural increase.

The most active group of external migrants was the group of 20–39-year-olds. In most age groups immigration exceeded emigration with the exception of the age groups of 10–14-year-olds and 25–29-year-olds. The number of men among the migrants exceeded that of women, but net migration indicates that the number of women who remain abroad exceeds that of men.

52% of the immigrants and 69% of the emigrants were citizens of Estonia, therefore the back-and-forth mobility of citizens of Estonia continues to constitute the majority of the external migration. 21% of the immigrants were EU citizens and 27% were citizens of third countries. 15% of the emigrants were EU citizens and 10% were of other citizenship. The EU citizens that immigrated were younger than the immigrants that were of Estonian or other citizenship, which, in the case of citizens of Estonia could be explained by the fact that they were mostly returning migrants. Of the citizenships that were most represented in external migration, the only number to decrease as a result of net migration was that of Estonian citizens. The increase was biggest for the persons holding citizenship of a third country. As a result of external migration, the biggest foreign citizenship groups that remained in Estonia were those of Ukraine, Russia and Finland. The immigration and emigration of EU citizens and people with undetermined citizenship balanced each other out.

Most of the persons whose migration country is known have gone to Finland or come from there. The main destination countries include other highly developed European countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany. The main source countries of immigration are, in addition to Finland, also Ukraine and Russia. By birth country, 49% of the immigrants are from Estonia, 11% from Russia and 8% from Ukraine. 68% of the emigrants were born in Estonia, 9% in Russia and 4% in Finland.

Diagram: Immigration by citizenship, 2015

Diagram: Emigration by citizenship, 2015

As of 2016, Statistics Estonia calculates external migration based on the residency index: a person’s transition from resident to non-resident is emigration and the opposite is immigration (when it is not the case of birth or death). As a result, migration flows have increased and this must be taken into account when comparing 2015 migration data to that of previous years. As a result of the changes, the Estonian external migration reflects reality more accurately; however, the country of origin and destination of many immigrants and emigrants remains unknown.

The press conference which presents an overview of 2015 migration trends takes place today, on 23 May at 11 in the 5th floor conference room of Statistics Estonia (Tatari 51).

For further information:

Alis Tammur
Senior Analyst
Methodology and Analysis Department
Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 625 8481

More detailed data have been published in the Statistical Database.