Death rate, immigration at highest levels in Estonia for several years

PPA service center in Tallinn, one of the locations where residency and ID cards are processed.
PPA service center in Tallinn, one of the locations where residency and ID cards are processed. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Estonia's population saw slight net growth, of a little over 1,700 people, on year to January 1 2022, state agency Statistics Estonia reports. The growth is the result of the highest immigration rate in recent years, though returning Estonian citizens made up the bulk of this, the agency says.

As of January 1 2022, Estonia's population stood at 1,331,796, up 1,728 on a year earlier, the agency says.

There were 13,272 live births in Estonia in 2021, and 18,587 deaths, meaning that the net increase in population was the result of immigration.

The number of deaths was exceptionally high in 2021, Statistics Estonia notes – the highest figure since 1997, compared with usual death rates in the 15,000 to 16,000 range.

Statistics Estonia says 19,524 immigrated into Estonia, while 12,481 emigrated from Estonia in 2021. The immigration figures will include Estonian citizens and residents returning to Estonia after a period outside the country, who made up the bulk of the total. This latter group saw a net growth again, after 2020 where a net decline was posted; other significant countries of origin for those immigrating into Estonia were Ukraine and Finland, while the latter remained a significant destination for emigrants.

The figures will also not include the recent arrival of people fleeing Russia's war in Ukraine, which began on February 24, after the period in focus ended.

Terje Trasberg, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, said that 2021 stands out for its exceptionally high number of deaths, 5,315 more than the number of live births registered in 2021.

Trasberg said: "The high number of deaths combined with the number of births, which was similar to the level of recent years, meant that natural increase was negative."

"On the other hand, net migration was again positive –7,043 more persons moved to Estonia than left for abroad. All in all, Estonia's population increased by 1,728 persons or, figuratively speaking, by the number of people living in the municipality of Kiili," Trasberg went on, referring to a municipality just outside Tallinn.

Population change 2010-2021. Source: Statistics Estonia

The birth rate for 2021 was similar to that of 2020, though slightly lower than 2019's figure of 14,099.

Changes in the make-up of births have also been observed, Statistics Estonia says, as the number of fourth births and upwards has risen, while the number of first-, second- and third-time births has fallen. Trasberg also noted that the number of women giving birth to a first or second child when the woman was aged between 30 and 44 has also risen.

Most areas of Estonia saw a negative natural increase in inhabitants, with only municipalities abutting on to Estonia's two largest cities, Tallinn and Tartu, bucking that trend – for instance Rae and Saue (Tallinn) and Luunja and Kambja (Tartu), Trasberg added.

More detailed data is here.

Census data to be published on June 1

From June 1, Statistics Estonia will begin publishing the results of the 2021 population census. The census data are used to determine, among other things, how the average age of women at first childbirth has changed over the past 20 years, what percentage of the population identify as Estonian in terms of ethnicity, which languages are spoken as mother tongue in Estonia, and how the percentage of people not born in Estonia has changed over the past two decades, the agency says.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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