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Population of Estonia increases by 4,690 in 2018

At the Police and Border Guard's Tammsaare service center in Tallinn. Immigration continues to be the main contributor to population growth in Estonia
At the Police and Border Guard's Tammsaare service center in Tallinn. Immigration continues to be the main contributor to population growth in Estonia Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

According to Statistics Estonia, the preliminary estimate of the population of Estonia as of 1 January 2019 was 1,323,820, which is 4,690 more than at the same time a year ago. The revised numbers are expected for May this year.

To get to this number, the population decrease in any given year is subtracted from its increase. For 2018, this means a reduction of 1,400 because the number of deaths exceeded the number of births, and an increase of 6,090 due to positive net migration (more people moved here than left). In total, the population of Estonia increased by nearly 0.4% in 2018.

More than 14,270 children were born in 2018, which is 500 more than in 2017. According to Statistics Estonia, the situation allows for the conclusion that fertility rates are up, as at the same time the number of women the so-called active childbearing age (20-44) was greater than the number of women entering it.

In the case of births, another possible indicator is the number of births per woman. As there are more women in the second half of their active childbearing age than in the first half, the number of births of first children and its share in the total number of births has been on the decline already for some time, Statistics Estonia said.

For the natural recovery of the Estonian population, families would need to have three or more children. However, starting with the third child, statistically the economic setbacks for families are greater, which negatively impacts people's decision to have more than three children.

Since Estonia regained its independence in 1991, fertility has been significantly below the replacement level. However, in recent years the state has raised benefits for families with three and more children substantially, which has contributed to an increase in the number of births of third children: in 2018 compared to 2017, the number of third children born increased by more than 500, an increase of more than 20%. Third children accounted for a fifth of all children born in 2018.

There were 15,670 deaths in 2018, a number solidly in the range of 15,200–15,800 of recent years. As life expectancy continues to increase, the share of older people in the population is increasing as well.

Migration statistics are a more complex issue, as Statistics Estonia look at preliminary data as well as supply unregistered migration numbers later on, drawing on several other resources.

According to available data, 13,030 people immigrated to Estonia, and 6,940 persons left the country in 2018. This number may still change mainly due to the inclusion of unregistered emigration on the part of Estonian residents leaving the country without notifying authorities.

Immigration flows can also increase because of return migration of Estonians that is not reflected in the population register, as they didn't notify authorities when they left. This means that compared to immigration, emigration is less registered, which means that there is a greater chance of adjustment in the revised statistics, for now meaning that net migration will likely be somewhat smaller in the results to be published in May.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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