Rising proportion of people of foreign origin now have Estonian citizenship

Estonian flags at citizenship receival ceremony.
Estonian flags at citizenship receival ceremony. Source: PPA

The proportion of people of foreign origin living in Estonia who are now Estonian citizens has risen in the past decade, from 45 percent in 2011 to 47 percent at present, recent census survey results compiled by state agency Statistics Estonia reveals.

The population of Estonia who are of foreign origin has been divided into three generations. 

The first generation are immigrants who had no previous connection with Estonia, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Tuesday.

The second generation includes the descendants, Statistics Estonia lead analyst Terje Trasberg said, adding: "[The second generation's] parents were not born in Estonia, but they themselves are permanent residents here, while the third generation are those who have been connected to Estonia for the longest time. Their parents were born in Estonia, while they, too are permanent residents of Estonia."

Allan Puur, professor of population sciences at Tallinn University, says the changes in the composition of the population relate to the birth of the third generation of the population of foreign origin.

Puur told AK that: "We have had a third generation being born which we didn't have ten years ago. It might have been assumed that this is due to a revolution in migration, but in fact, if you look at the generational distribution, this is actually the natural birth rate relating to the next generation."

The share of those with Estonian citizenship among the population of foreign origin has also risen. According to Trasberg, this, too, relates to this third generation, and also more subjective factors such as individuals considering themselves to be Estonian rather than any other nationality. 

Trasberg told AK that: "These are the people who have been associated with Estonia for the longest time. Their parents were already born here and they themselves most likely grew up in Estonia. They simply feel themselves as people of Estonian nationality."

As to whether these percentage changes are a positive thing, this depends on whether a person values ​​the stability or diversity of the population composition more, Puur said, adding that in his view too much of a swing towards the latter could create issues in some areas.

"Naturally, one has to realize that such a transformation in composition, to a very varied and diverse one, will likely also result in certain societal issues, especially in the area of integration," Puur said.

Nonetheless, Puur noted that it seems likely the current trend will continue; if immigration numbers in years to come are particularly high, the rise will relate most to the first generation outlined above, he added.

How Estonian citizenship is acquired. Source: Settle in Estonia

Estonia's population stood at more than 1.33 million at year-end 2021, 72.5 percent of whom were classed as of the native population, meaning those with at least one parent and grandparent born in Estonia.

The share of residents of foreign origin who consider themselves ethnic Estonians has increased since the last census in 2011, Statistics Estonia added.

Readers interested in the requirements of Estonian citizenship can find out more here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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