Immigration increases population for fifth year in a row

Arrivals at Tallinn Airport.
Arrivals at Tallinn Airport. Source: Sander Koit/ERR

The population increased by more than 3,500 people last year and was driven by immigration for the fifth year in a row, a preliminary estimate of the population released by Statistics Estonia shows.

The data shows on the first day of the new year, there were 1,328,360 people registered as living in Estonia which is 3,540 persons more than on January 1, 2019.

The reason for population growth in 2019 was positive net migration: 5,030 more people immigrated to Estonia than emigrated.

Last year 12,240 persons immigrated to Estonia and 7,210 persons emigrated from Estonia. Compared to the year before, net migration fell by 2,000 persons.

External migration has contributed to population growth already for the past five years. Statistics Estonia said preliminary migration data is harder to estimate accurately than other types of data due to the way it is recorded.

In 2019, there continued to be more deaths than births and the natural increase remained negative at minus 1,490.

This was to be expected, Statistics Estonia said, as the number of older people in the population is increasing and the number of women of childbearing age is decreasing.

Last year, 13,900 children were born in Estonia, which is more than 400 less 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 started to have families.

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. Further 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.

Population change 2010-2019. Source: Statistics Estonia.

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. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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