External migration helped the Estonian population grow in 2015

For the first time in 25 years since Estonia regained independence, the country’s population had an annual increase, rather than decline.

On 1 January 2016, 1,315,944 people lived in Estonia, which is 2,673 people more than at the same time in 2015, Statistics Estonia announced, adding that the growth was partly influenced by external migration to the country.

According to the statistics office, the population figure decreased by 1,336 people due to negative natural increase, but increased by 2,410 as a result of positive net migration.

“The increase in the population figure was also influenced by changes in the calculation methodology, resulting in 1,599 persons being added to the population,” the agency added.

In 2015, 15,413 people took up residence in Estonia while 13,003 persons left. As of 2015, Statistics Estonia also takes into account unregistered migration in addition to registered migration. “As external migration is often left unregistered by the residents of Estonia, the size of migration flows increased as a result compared [with] previous years,” the agency said.

The population also increased due to the statistics office’s new population calculation methodology, following which the classification of persons into permanent residents is carried out using an index that is calculated based on registers.

“When preparing for the 2020 register-based Population and Housing Census, Statistics Estonia analysed the quality of official databases (registers) and compiled the residency index for inhabitants based on that data,” the agency said. “When using register data, it became apparent that there were 1,599 more persons living in Estonia compared [with] what was indicated by the previously used population census data. The population mainly increased as a result of immigration of European Union citizens, which the previous methodology reflected to a smaller extent.”

In 2015, 13,907 people were born in Estonia, and 15,243 people died.


Cover photo by Anete Palmik.

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About the author: Sten Hankewitz

Sten Hankewitz is a lifelong journalist and Deputy Editor at Estonian World. Having lived in Estonia, Spain, the UK and all around the US, he now resides in Chicago, IL. He loves to write and besides working at Estonian World and doing some occasional blogging, he writes books and contributes to other outlets in Estonia, Israel and elsewhere. He has strong convictions and he shows them unashamedly. You can follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook or check out his personal blog. You can write to Sten at sten@estonianworld.com.