New population projection shows that Estonia’s population will decrease

Posted on 13 June 2024, 10:30

Although the population has grown for the last seven years, the latest projection predicts a decrease in Estonia’s population by 2085.

“It is projected that there will be about 1.2 million people living in Estonia in 2085. The population will decrease by 167,000 compared with the current figure. The fall will be bigger than the total number of residents in Tartu county,” said Terje Trasberg, team lead of population and education statistics at Statistics Estonia. 

She explained that the population will decrease mainly due to low fertility and population ageing. “In recent years, Estonia has had a low number of births. Natural increase has also been negative since the restoration of independence: the total natural population decrease has been over 100,000. Based on all of this, it is projected that the number of women in fertile age will continue to decline in the future,” said Trasberg. 

It is also the main reason why population decline will be slower at the beginning of the projection period and then gather pace. Compared with the current population figure, the projected population will be 1.4% smaller by 2030, 4.1% smaller by 2050, and 12.1% smaller by 2085.

Immigration will exceed emigration by 4,000

The population figure in the latest projection is somewhat bigger than in previous projections. “This is related to the fact that, in the last five years, immigration to Estonia – even without refugees – has been significantly higher than emigration,” explained Trasberg. 

The projection made in 2019 estimated annual net migration at 1,500. However, in the new projection, it is estimated that, each year, the number of immigrants will exceed the number of emigrants by 4,000. 

Natural increase will remain negative

It is projected that the fertility rate will recover from the current low level but will still remain below replacement level fertility, meaning that there will be fewer than two children born per woman, on average. The predicted fertility levels are also lower than in previous projections. 

“In the previous ten years, there were about 13,300 births per year on average, but the annual number of births is now projected to be 11,700 until 2050,” said the analyst. 

Today, life expectancy is 74.5 years for men and 83.1 years for women. These indicators are on the rise, with male life expectancy predicted to reach 85.3 and female life expectancy 90.9 years by 2085. 

Fall in the share of working-age population

Low fertility, increasing life expectancy, and immigration all have an impact on the age structure of the population in Estonia. Trasberg explained that, currently, the share of persons aged under 20 is 21.6%, the share of the working-age population (aged 20–64) is 57.9%, and the share of persons aged 65 and over is 20.5% of the population. 

According to the projection, the share of the working-age population will drop to 54.6% by 2050 and will decline further by the end of the projection period, so that the working-age population will represent less than a half (49.2%) of the population in 2085. 

Seven different scenarios were prepared

The population projection is based on demographic trends. “Among other things, we consider the number of children born, the age of women at childbirth, mortality in different age groups, the age structure of migrants, and also the possible changes in all these variables over time,” said Trasberg.

The same trends cannot automatically be applied beyond the projection period, because the future is always unpredictable. The projection also makes no predictions about developments in the war in Ukraine. “Even with a stable course, there are alternative possibilities,” said Trasberg to explain why population projections always include multiple scenarios.

Estimates of future population size are crucial

Hede Sinisaar, the Head of Department of Analysis and Statistics at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said that the changes in the age structure of the population are important input in the provision of services by the state. 

“For an ageing society, it is vital to track and assess demographic trends. When making population projections, we predict future trends relying on the data and trends of the past. We take current indicators and use various calculation models to determine the probable range for demographic changes in the nearer future,” explained Sinisaar.

She added that information about the future size and structure of the population is needed to assess the opportunities and challenges facing Estonia as a country. “For the Ministry of Social Affairs, it is important to analyse the future need for services in different areas and plan accordingly,” she noted.


The population projection was made in consultation with Estonian population experts, including Tiit Tammaru (University of Tartu), Allan Puur (Tallinn University), Alis Tammur (Ministry of Social Affairs) and Ene-Margit Tiit (Statistics Estonia).

The main representative of public interest for the population projection is the Ministry of Social Affairs. Statistics Estonia prepares the population projection every five years.

More detailed data have been published in the statistical database.

See also the population projection section on our website, and the population pyramid application.

When using Statistics Estonia’s data and graphs, please indicate the source.

For further information:

Heidi Kukk
Media Relations Manager
Marketing and Dissemination Department
Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 625 9181
press [at]


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