While September was still slightly too early to get a clear picture of how births have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the rate of both marriages and divorces seems to have been slowed even further than the pre-existing trend would suggest, population affairs minister Riina Solman (Isamaa) says.
Commenting on figures recently released by her department, Solman noted that just under 500 marriages took place to September, compared with 272 divorces. The respective figures for September 2019 were 575 and 234, continuing a downward trend for the numbers of both, which may have been further exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It seems to be the case that a family event postponed due to the emergency situation is now less likely to take place at all," Solman said of the statistics, noting that the figures for January to September this year were significantly down on 2019.
"In the first nine months of this year, over 300 fewer marriages were concluded than during the same period a year earlier. At the same time, 100 fewer divorces have taken place on year, over the same period," she went on.
"In the case of marriages, this is understandable, but it is surprising that the number of divorces have also dropped significantly. I hope, however, that wedding plans disrupted by the coronavirus crisis this year will still be realized in the years to come."
Of the September marriages, 30 were conducted by clergy members and just under 60 by notaries.
Births in September (1,209), while they would have been conceived before the coronavirus pandemic began, were slightly down on the same month in 2019 (1,226).
651 boys were born in September, compared with 558 girls.
Name changes were granted to 155 people in September 2020, 93 concerning second names, 45 first names, and 17 changing both.
99 women and 55 men changed their name in September, with minister Solman noting that a new law had brought the topic back into focus.
"A name change is a very personal and often emotional issue. The new draft Names Act submitted to the government this week brought the issue of names back to the public consciousness. However, we can see from the statistics that most people do not experience changing their name in their lives," Solman said, adding that in most cases changes were the result of marriage or divorce, though the new law had broadened the scope of those who can legally change their name, she said.
Solman also expressed hope that the coronavirus crisis would not lead to a long-term fall in birth rates or interfere with people's plans to have children, adding that a legal amend she is proposing would, if it passed, maintain parental benefits for parents rendered unemployed by the crisis at the same level they had been when they were working, to maintain longer-term security and encourage people to have children despite the pandemic.
Birth figures breakdown
September's births included 17 sets of twins (six boys', four girls' and seven mixed pairs).
The most populous region of Estonia, Harju County (172 births) and Tallinn itself (412 births) unsurprisingly saw the largest number of new arrivals in September, followed by Tartu County (173 births) and Ida-Viru County (89 births). Lääne-Viru County saw 65 births, Pärnu County 60 and Viljandi County 43. Most of the remaining counties had figures in the 20s, with Põlva County (18 births) and Hiiumaa (seven) reporting the lowest figures for birhts in September.
Riina Solman as Minister for Population Affairs oversees an interior ministry department which includes vital statistics compilations and regularly comments on population statistics and changes in the demographic situation. The department says that birth rate-related behavior is a long-term process, which is not affected by monthly fluctuations.
Editor: Andrew Whyte