Solman: Estonia needs to address demographic downturn

Minister of Population Riina Solman (Isamaa).
Minister of Population Riina Solman (Isamaa). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Minister of Population Riina Solman said during an OECD meeting in Paris that Estonia must address births and return migration to stop population decrease.

"To adapt and address the demographic downturn, we must tackle our low birthrate and convince Estonian citizens to return home. From 2015 on, net migration has been positive due to new immigration – immigration is outperforming emigration. Returning Estonian citizens make up a considerable part of immigrants," the Ministry of Internal Affairs quoted Solman as having said.

"At the same time, we need to keep in mind that the population is remaining more or less stable based on new immigration. We currently lack an overview of immigration and emigration based on citizenship for 2019. Looking at 2018 data, we can speculate that immigration relied more on citizens of other countries also last year," Solman explained.

Solman had this to say about integration: "In order for integration and preparations for the future to be more successful, we must gauge the level of migration our society can handle. Such an analysis is necessary for planning future migration and integration policies. These circumstances cannot be overlooked or underestimated," Solman emphasized.

"Estonia has been on the forefront of mass immigration. We have witnessed massive influx of immigrants during the Soviet occupation. This reduced the relative importance of ethnical Estonians to 61.5 percent of the population by 1989, compared to 88 percent before the Soviet period. Estonia has one of the greatest populations of residents with foreign origins in the European Union – 33 percent of our working-age people were born abroad or are the offspring of people born abroad. Even though we have made some progress, we are still integrating them into our society," Solman explained.

"Estonia believes that innovative digital solutions can boost the effectiveness of reacting to future problems. Estonia is prepared to contribute to the adoption of IT and new technologies," Solman told her colleagues at the ministerial.

Riina Solman attended the OECD ministerial on migration on Friday to discuss recent migration trends and integration policies and how they could help answer future questions.

The ministers passed on joint statement that emphasized effective border control, fight against human trafficking and more effective return policies, but also the importance of language training, international cooperation and high-quality data collection.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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