Analytics, Demography, Latvia

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Sunday, 05.07.2020, 10:03

Birthrate in Latvia drops to lowest level in decades - demographer

BC, Riga, 16.01.2020.Print version
Last year the birthrate in Latvia continued to decline, dropping to the lowest level in decades, demographer Ilmars Mezs told LETA.

Mezs believes that the birthrate will continue to decline in the years to come if the main obstacles currently preventing the formation of new families are not removed. 

Commenting on the current demographic challenges, the expert said that politicians should primarily consider introducing tax breaks for young parents and improving benefits and availability of preschools, especially in Riga.

The average number of children in families is falling, said Mezs. In his opinion, the state is not doing enough to remove obstacles faced by single-parent families and large families. Inaccessibility of kindergartens is one of such problems.

Latvia should follow the example of the other Baltic countries, especially Estonia, which invests almost twice as much as Latvia in improving the demographic situation, as a result of which Estonia's population decreases by about a thousand annually, while Latvia's population decreases by approximately 10,000 every year, said Mezs.

There is a direct correlation between state support for young families and birthrates, stressed Mezs. The demographic situation in the Scandinavian countries is improving, while in Southern Europe the opposite is true. In this respect, Latvia could rather be considered part of Southern Europe, where birthrates are declining and the governments are not doing enough to improve the situation.

Primarily, the state should consider reducing family poverty, as this is a major factor that demotivates potential parents. As for changes in 2020 that could affect demographics, the expert criticized increasing the guaranteed minimum income, arguing that this would have virtually no effect on families with children, but it would encourage residents to refrain from creating offspring.

Mezs also mentioned several support measures that could help improve the demographic situation in Latvia. These include the decision to increase support for guardians, the plan to channel EUR 3.6 mln to large families wishing to buy or build a home, as well as changes in child benefits.

As for other demographic trends, Mezs said that immigration was increasing due to more third-country students and workers coming to Latvia.

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