Minister for Population Affairs Riina Solman (Isamaa) is meeting with members of Pere Sihtkapital, a foundation focusing on the family. The meeting on Friday will look at long-term strategy for population sustainability in Estonia, which is due for May 2020. Solman says all concerned parties should work together to develop the vision, according to a ministry press release.
The minister said she wants the foundation to come up with proposals based on research and international experience, with a view to better shaping population and family policy. Population sustainability is, according to Solman, the most important issue facing Estonia.
"The future of our demographic development depends on our cultural, economic and social future. We need effective solutions, but to do this we need to mobilize all existing expertise," Solman said ahead of the meeting.
The minister also said that in order to avoid depopulation and to maintain a viable demographic structure when it comes to age, all areas of life should become more "family-friendly".
"Family-friendliness begins with respect for the family as an institution and requires consideration of the needs of families with children. Not just small families, but also larger families, must be assured," Solman continued.
The minister also stressed the importance of holding up the share of ethnic Estonians within the country's population makeup as a whole, to avoid this falling.
"Cultural heritage is passed down through the family. If there are no Estonians, there is no Estonian culture or country. Children and strong families are the backbone of our nation," Solman added.
According to its articles of association, Pere Sihtkapital was established at the beginning of this year and aims to help ensure the sustainability of the Estonian population and the nation state. The foundation intends to initiate basic and applied population research and, on the basis of these results, make policy proposals to the government.
The foundation also states its function as one of monitoring population development and communicating its results to the government and the wider public. It will also offer support for activities and projects aimed at valuing families with children, as well as child welfare.
The foundation is thus in tune with the current government's emphasis on family values, a family-friendly environment, demographics, and the preservation of Estonian culture.
The long-term strategy in this area is set to be unveiled by the government next May, and falls under Riina Solman's purview as part of the Ministry of the Interior. This will include analyzing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of existing family policy measures, and making proposals for supplementing family-oriented benefits and services.
Births increased in 2018
In May, Statistics Estonia reported that there had been an increase in births. In total 14,367 children were born in Estonia in 2018, or 600 children more than the year before. The last time the number of births exceeded this was in 2011.
In the current demographic situation, the number of women of childbearing age is decreasing every year. Thus, an increase in the number of births is reflected in higher birth rates.
The total fertility rate was 1.67 in 2018, whereas just a year earlier it was 1.59. The relatively sharp increase can be attributed to larger state support to families with three and more children. In this century, the total fertility rate was highest in 2008-2010 (at 1.72) and lowest in 2001 (at 1.32).
Editor: Andrew Whyte