Immigration has been driving population growth for five years

Posted on 17 January 2020, 10:00

According to Statistics Estonia, the preliminary estimate of the population of Estonia as at 1 January 2020 was 1,328,360, which is 3,540 persons more than at the same time a year ago.

In 2019, there continued to be more deaths than births and natural increase remained negative (1,490). This was to be expected, as the number of older people in the population is high and the number of women in childbearing age is decreasing. The factor behind population growth in 2019 was positive net migration: 5,030 more people immigrated to Estonia than emigrated.

13,900 children were born in Estonia in 2019, which is more than 400 fewer children than the year before. The decrease in the number of births was to be expected, as the small generation born in the 1990s has reached active family formation age. It is likely that fertility continued to be affected by the increase in the third child allowance, as the number of births was higher than in 2017, although the number of women is smaller compared to 2017. The subsequent analysis will show whether the drop in 2019 was due to the decreasing number of first and second children or the number of third children also decreased compared to 2018.

There were 15,390 deaths in 2019. Despite the increase in the number of older people, the number of deaths has remained stable in the past decade due to increasing life expectancy.

External migration has contributed to population growth already for the past five years. 12,240 persons immigrated to Estonia and 7,210 persons emigrated from Estonia in 2019. Compared to the year before, net migration fell by 2,000 persons. Migration statistics are most difficult to estimate based on preliminary data, as Statistics Estonia later supplements migration figures with population register data and unregistered migration data. Reaching the final result is more complicated compared to other vital events, both technically and methodologically, and it can significantly increase migration flows. Emigration increases mainly due to unregistered leaving of Estonian and European Union citizens. Immigration increases mainly due to their return migration, which is not recorded in the population register, as the prior leaving was not registered.

The preliminary population number is based on the initial data on births, deaths and registered migration of the previous year.

Emigrants do not include persons who are not considered Estonian residents in the register in the current year as a result of amendments to the Population Register Act, as their place of residence at the last turn of the year was registered at municipal level.

Statistics Estonia will publish the revised population number with revised vital events (migration, births and deaths) on 12 May. A thorough review of the rules for determining permanent residents (residency index) is HERE(in Estonian).

For the statistical activity “Population”, the main representative of public interest is the Ministry of Social Affairs, commissioned by whom Statistics Estonia collects and analyses the data necessary for conducting the statistical activity.

Due to maintenance, Statistics Estonia’s and census websites will be temporarily unavailable on 23  April between 16:00 and 17:00. We apologize for the inconvenience.