Population statistics 2022: Record low births, all time high migration

Births table at the Pelgulinn maternity hospital in Tallinn.
Births table at the Pelgulinn maternity hospital in Tallinn. Source: Pelgulinna sünnitusmaja

Estonia saw the lowest birth rate in over a century in 2022, and a fall of 12 percent on the preceding year, state agency Statistics Estonia reports.

At the same time, the overall population grew exceptionally, at 2.6 percent on year, compared with a figure of around 0.1 percent for previous years.

This was due to immigration, particularly from Ukraine, whose arrivals were tenfold higher than in 2021, though immigration from Russia, too, is on the rise.

In all, Estonia's population rose by 34,088 persons in 2022, despite the record low birth rate.

As of January 1 this year, 1,365,884 people were resident in Estonia, the agency says.

Anet Müürsoo, Head of Population and Social Statistics Department at Statistics Estonia, called 2022 a "remarkable year" in terms of population statistics.

Müürsoo said: "The population of Estonia increased by 34,088 persons or, figuratively speaking, by the number of people living in Võru County. Such growth is extraordinary. By comparison, in the two previous years, the population rose by around 1,700 persons (0.1 percent)."

2022 was also an exceptional year because of the low number of births, Statistics Estonia reports.

Never before in Estonian population statistics, which date back to 1919, have fewer than 12,000 births been recorded.

In 2022, only 11,646 live births were registered.

"This is 12.3 percent less than in 2021. On average, there have been around 14,000 births a year since regaining independence. In terms of numbers, fewer first, second, and third children were born," Müürsoo noted.

"The lowest birth rate in a century has probably been influenced by the coronavirus crisis, the war in Ukraine and the subsequent high price rises and cost of living, which in turn appear to have discouraged families from having children. The low birth rate is also affected by the fact that the nineties generation – which was smaller than previous generations – has entered the childbearing age," Müürsoo added.

Population change in Estonia. Source: Statistics Estonia

Population statistics in 2022 quick facts (source: Statistics Estonia)

  • 11,646 births were registered in Estonia.
  • 17,315 deaths were registered in the same period.
  • Immigration exceeded emigration fivefold, since 49,414 persons immigrated into Estonia compared with 9,657 persons emigrating from it.
  • People with Ukrainian citizenship accounted for 66 percent of immigrants, of whom 33,217 remained permanently in Estonia.1
  • There was a slight increase in the share of first children from the total live births (39.8 percent compared with 37.2 percent in 2022), but a fall in the share of second children (33.8 percent, down from 35.9 percent last year) and a slight fall with third children too (from 18.8 percent to 18.1 percent of all live births, 2021-2022).
  • The average age of women giving birth in 2022 was 31.2 years, compared with 28.9 for the average age of first-time mothers.
  • There were 17,315 deaths in 2022, 1,272 fewer than in 2021, though that year's figure was "exceptionally high."
  • Over the last ten years, the number of deaths per year has hovered around the 15,000-16,000-mark.
  • 6,981 Estonian citizens arrived in the country and 5,352 left – arrivals outnumbered departures by 1,629.
  • The highest number of citizens of other countries arriving in Estonia were those with Ukrainian citizenship (33,217), 10-times more than a year ago.
  • The immigration of Russian citizens is also on the rise, with 1,918 arrivals last year, 1,860 in 2021, and 1,417 in 2020.
  • Finland remains the most popular destination country for Estonians: 2,481 people went there in 2022 (including 2,068 Estonian citizens), though this is lowest figure since 2018.
  • 2,744 people returned from Finland, 2,374 of them Estonian citizens.
  • In total, 39,757 more people stayed in Estonia last year than left.
  • "Although 2022 will be marked by an exceptionally high number of immigrants, it is also worth noting that the number of emigrants was the lowest in recent years," Müürsoo added.
Number of births by birth order. Source: Statistics Estonia

Statistics Estonia is to publish more detailed birth statistics for 2022 on May 31.

1 The data on registered migration published here cover persons who immigrated to Estonia in the last year and who, as of January 1, 2023, had a place of residence in Estonia according to the Population Register. This means these figures do not include, for example, those Ukrainian refugees who are staying in Estonia but have not registered a place of residence here. In Estonia, data on Ukrainian war refugees are also collected by the Police and Border Guard Board, who publish the number of persons applying for temporary protection. Persons who have been granted temporary protection are included in the preliminary population figure only if they were residing in Estonia as at January 1, 2023 and had registered a place of residence in Estonia. 

More detailed information is here (in Estonian) and here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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