Researchers from the University of Tartu and Tallinn University said that couples deciding to delay their first child, preferring to travel or study, is playing a crucial role in Estonia's population decline and that the problem is likely to become more severe.
“The reasons for postponing the first child are self-centered, as people wish to study, travel and develop themselves and many young people find that they have problems with housing, which is very important,” said Tallinn University senior research fellow Marge Unt, speaking in front of Parliament.
Unt said that, in the next few years, the choices made by the babyboomers of the late 1980s and early 1990s will greatly affect the future of the nation's population figures.
Mare Ainsaar of the University of Tartu said that there is no reason not to increase child benefits, and that the state should have one universal child benefit.
She said that benefits begin to affect the decision to have a second or third child, as then parents become more realistic about their financial possibilities.
Deaths outstripped births in 21 out of the last 22 years, with just 35 more births than deaths recorded in 2010. Up until 1990, around 5,000 more people were born each year than died.
Only 974 births were registered in November, the first time that figure has been below 1,000 since 2003. The number of deaths for the month was 1,152.