Analytics, Demography, Latvia, Statistics

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 21.06.2018, 16:51

Latvia population keeps declining

Sigita Šulca Population Statistics Section, 30.05.2017.Print version
The latest data of the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) show that at the beginning of 2017 Latvia population accounted for 1 mln 950 thousand, which is 18.8 thousand people fewer than a year ago. In 2016, population declined by 0.97% (in 2015 by 0.87%).

Since the beginning of 2010, Latvian population has dropped by 170 thousand or 8%. Migration has resulted in a decrease of 113 thousand and negative natural increase in a drop of 57 thousand people.

Population changes in Latvia in 20102016, thousand people


Riga population has grown slightly, whereas the largest decline recorded in Latgale

In regional breakdown, population increase was recorded only in Riga (of 1.8 thousand or 0.3%). The most notable population drop still is registered in Latgale region – of 6.3 thousand or 2.3%, which is 0.3 percentage points more than in 2015. Population decline in Vidzeme constitutes 2.1% (4.2 thousand), in Kurzeme 1.9% (4.8 thousand), in Zemgale 1.6% (3.9 thousand) and in Pierīga 0.4% (1.4 thousand).

Population change in 2016 by statistical region

Population decline was recorded in all cities under state jurisdiction except for Riga. The sharpest reduction was observed in Rēzekne (of 1.8% or 518 people), Liepāja (1.7% or 1187), Daugavpils (1.5% or 1266), Ventspils (1.5% or 541), Jēkabpils (1.5% or 338), whereas the smallest in Jelgava (of 0.5% or 310 people).

Last year, the population increase was recorded only in 9 out of 110 counties, and, except for Aknīste county, they all are counties located in Pierīga region. Population increase (of 15 people) in Aknīste county was due to the rise in the number of persons in social care institutions. The highest population rise was observed in Carnikava (of 1476 people), Babīte (294), Ādaži (211), and Garkalne (177) county. Population increase in Carnikava county, just like in Riga in 2015, might be due to the real estate tax changes that encouraged population to declare their place of residence at the housing units in which no one was declared before. Population increase was also recorded in Salaspils (of 82 people), Stopiņi (56), Ikšķile (36) and Ropaži county (10). Out of the nine counties mentioned, all have positive net migration, whereas positive natural increase was recorded in 6 counties.

Emigration over immigration and deaths over births

In 2015 and 2016, the number of immigrants dropped, while the number of emigrants increased. As a result of international long-term migration, Latvian population fell by 12.2 thousand in 2016 (by 10.6 thousand in 2015). In 2016, 8.4 thousand persons arrived in Latvia from other countries (1.1 thousand fewer than in 2015) and 20.6 thousand people left the country (0.5 thousand more than in 2015).

In 2016, due to the natural increase Latvian population declined by 6.6 thousand (by 6.5 thousand in 2015). In 2016, 22.0 thousand people were born and 28.6 thousand persons died in the country. The number of births per 1000 inhabitants has grown slightly over the past five years – from 9.8 in 2012 to 11.2 in 2016. Over the last two years, mortality rate has gone up slightly as well, constituting 14.6 deaths per 1000 inhabitants in 2016 (14.4 in 2015). It should be noted that, infant mortality has decreased last year – 81 children died during their first year of life, i.e., 3.7 infant deaths per 1000 live births (4.1 in 2015).


Increase in the number of children and young people

Affected by a slight birth rate growth, the number of children and youth (aged up to 14) increased by 11.4 thousand (by 3.3 thousand in 2016), accounting for 15.6% of the total population at the beginning of 2017 (14.3% at the beginning of 2012).

In 2016, population aged 15–64 kept declining – by 23.5 thousand or 1.8%, which was mainly because of the migration (by 16.8 thousand).

Population aged over 62 keeps increasing as well – in 2016 the indicator grew by 1.3 thousand. Its share in the total population rose from 19.6% at the beginning of 2016 to 19.9 % at the beginning of 2017.

In 2016, population decline was recorded among all largest Latvian ethnicities: number of Belarussians and Lithuanians dropped by 2.6%, of Ukrainians and Poles by 2.3%, of Russians by 1.8%, and of Latvians by 0.6%. The share of Latvians in the total population, despite of the decrease in the total population, grew from 61.8% at the beginning of 2016 to 62.0% at the beginning of 2017.

Ethnic composition of Latvia population at the beginning of 2017 (%)


Demography trends in Latvia; 20142016





2015 as per cent of 2014

2016 as per cent of 2015

per 1000 



Population, at the end of the year

1 986 096

1 968 957

1 950 116






12 515

13 617

13 002






6 271

5 151

6 061






21 746

21 979

21 968






28 466

28 478

28 580






10 365

9 479

8 345






19 017

20 119

20 574





Net migration

-8 652

-10 640

-12 229






Population decline observed also in Estonia and Lithuania

For comparison, at the beginning of 2017 Estonia population accounted for 1 mln 315 thousand (309 people fewer than a year ago). Estonian natural increase was negative as well – 1 339 people fewer (in 2016 14.1 thousand people were born and 15.4 thousand passed away in Estonia), whereas international net migration was positive – 1 030 people (14.8 thousand arrived from other countries and 13.8 emigrated in 2016)[1].

The provisional Lithuanian population at the beginning of 2017 accounted for 2 mln 849 thousand (population decline of 39.2 thousand). Lithuanian natural increase was negative as well (9.6 thousand people fewer (provisional birth number in 2017 constitutes 31.2 thousand and death number 40.8 thousand)) as was the net migration (decline of 29.6 thousand)[2].

Population indicators in CSB database now also available by registered place of residence

In 2017, CSB will be publishing population number estimates* not only in the breakdown by region, county and city under state jurisdiction based on the actual place of residence detected by the CSB, but also based on the declared place of residence in line with the information of the Population Register of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs. Such an approach was chosen because starting from 2021 the demography statistics will be estimated solely based on the CSB population number estimate made in line with the declared place of residence. The declared place of residence will be revised only in exceptional cases (for persons in social care institutions and places of imprisonment, as well as for children that in line with the Population Register information are the only persons declared in the respective residence).

The difference in the CSB population estimate is very small between that based on the usual and declared place of residence. E.g., Riga population based on the declared place of residence is 6.4 thousand or 1% smaller. Similar situation is observed also in Pierīga region. Among the counties, the most significant differences may be observed in Cibla and Baltinava counties, in which 5.1% and 5.6% people more have declared their place of residence. As compared to the actual place of usual residence, respectively.

Information on the number of population in administrative territories at the beginning of 2017 as well as the key demographic indicators are available in the CSB database section Population and Social Processes.

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