If 30,000 war refugees from Ukraine were to remain permanently living in Estonia, this would delay the country's demographic decline by more than 20 years, it appears from a new report recently released by the Foresight Center, a think tank at the Riigikogu.
In its report, the think tank compiled three different demographic scenarios about 10,000, 30,000 and 60,000 war refugees, respectively, remaining in Estonia.
According to Foresight Center expert Magnus Piirits, war refugees remaining in Estonia will exponentially increase the country's current population, but the population will nonetheless begin to decline in the future due to low birth rates and immigration that, according to current long-term forecasts, won't compensate for it.
As of the end of April, according to Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) data, more than 35,000 war refugees from Ukraine had arrived in Estonia. "As the war in Ukraine is ongoing, then it is difficult to forecast the number of refugees and whether they will remain in Estonia," he noted.
Based on Eurostat's population projections, the Foresight Center assessed the impact of these war refugees on the Estonian population through the year 2100. The think tank explored three different scenarios.
"War refugees remaining in Estonia will first and foremost delay [our] demographic decline," Piirits said. "10,000 refugees would maintain Estonia's population at a higher than usual for nine years, 30,000 for 22 years and 60,000 for 40 years."
He noted that by the year 2100, compared with the latest population projection — Eurostat's 2019 projection — the population would be higher by 13,000 in the case of 10,000 war refugees, by 39,000 in the case of 30,000 refugees, and by 78,000 in the case of 60,000 war refugees remaining in Estonia today.
"In terms of labor force, one important indicator is the demographic old-age to working-age ratio, which will significantly through 2050," Piirits said.
"In the long term, the war refugees [from Ukraine] will manage relatively well in Estonia, as one third of the refugees are children, and the adults' education level is similar to the Estonian average," he explained. "According to initial data by the Social Insurance Board (SKA), nearly 50 percent of refugees aged 30-34 have completed higher education, i.e. have the same high education level as people in Estonia on average."
The Foresight Centee is a think tank at the Chancellery of the Riigikogu that analyzes long-term developments in society and the economy. It conducts research aimed at analyzing long-term developments and discovering new trends in Estonian society.
Editor: Aili Vahtla