Estonia had positive net migration for sixth year running in 2020

Border checks at Helsinki's western ferry terminal.
Border checks at Helsinki's western ferry terminal. Source: Katriina Laine / Yle

Estonia had positive net migration for the sixth year in a row in 2020, revised data of Statistics Estonia shows. However, there were also fewer births than deaths last year.

Last year, 16,209 people immigrated to Estonia and 12,427 persons emigrated from Estonia, resulting in positive net migration.

Compared to the previous year, immigration decreased by 1,963 people and emigration by 374 people.

Estonian citizens represented the biggest share of both immigrants and emigrants, but for the first time since 2016 the net migration of Estonian citizens was negative. 6,920 Estonian citizens moved abroad, while 5,900 citizens moved back to Estonia.

Migration was still the most active between Estonia and Finland. But for the first time in three years, Estonia had negative net migration with Finland, meaning that more people moved from Estonia to Finland than the other way around. 

Migration of Estonian Citizens, 2005-2020. Source: Statistics Estonia.

On 1 January 2021, the population of Estonia was 1,330,068, which is 1,179 persons more than the year before.

The population figure decreased by 2,602 persons due to a negative natural increase but increased by 3,782 persons as a result of positive net migration.

13,209 children were born in 2020, which is 890 less than the year before. Ethel Maasing, the leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, said that the fertility rate fell primarily in younger age groups.

"The average number of births fell in every age group among women of childbearing age, with the biggest decrease registered in the age group 25–29. Year on year, there were more births of the fourth and fifth child, while there was a decrease in the births of the first, second and third child," said Maasing.

There were 15,811 deaths in 2020, which is 410 more than the year before. The total number of deaths was a little higher than in the previous ten years when the annual number of deaths ranged from 15,200 to 15,800.  

"Natural increase, i.e. the difference between the number of births and deaths, was last lower than this in 2005. But before that, natural increase was lower still – for example, in 1994, the population decreased by more than 8,000 persons due to negative natural increase," Maasing explained.

A comparison by county shows the continuation of the consistent trend where natural change was again positive in Harju and Tartu counties but negative in other counties.

"Ida-Viru county stands out in terms of negative natural increase. Compared to other counties, Ida-Viru county has a smaller share of women of childbearing age and its population is aging," Maasing added.

Population change, 2005-2020. Source: Statistics Estonia.

Statistics Estonia adjusted the population figure published last year by 67 people. As of January 1 2020, the population of Estonia was 1,328,889. 

More detailed data have been published in the statistical database


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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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