Estonia’s births at a record low, migration record high in 2022

According to Statistics Estonia, 1,365,884 people lived in Estonia as of 1 January 2023, which is 34,088 people (2.6%) more than at the same time a year ago; in 2022, there were 11,646 births and 17,315 deaths in Estonia; 49,414 people immigrated to the country and 9,657 people emigrated from Estonia, therefore, immigration exceeded emigration fivefold.

Anet Müürsoo, the head of population and social statistics department of Statistics Estonia, the country’s official statistics agency, said that 2022 was a remarkable year in terms of population statistics.

“The population of Estonia increased by 34,088 people or, figuratively speaking, by the number of people living in Võru county. Such growth is extraordinary. For comparison, in the two previous years, the population increased by around 1,700 people (0.1%),” Müürsoo said in a statement.

The population was boosted by immigration, which was most affected last year by Ukrainians arriving in Estonia. People with Ukrainian citizenship accounted for 67% of immigrants, of whom 33,217 remained permanently in Estonia.

A Ukrainian refugee woman in Estonia. Photo by Yuliia Dvornivhenko.

The lowest number of births since 1919

2022 was also an “exceptional” year because of the low number of births, according to Statistics Estonia – never before have fewer than 12,000 births been recorded in Estonian population statistics, which date back to 1919. Last year, however, only 11,646 children were born.

“The lowest birth rate in a century has probably been influenced by the coronavirus crisis, the war in Ukraine and the subsequent high price rises and cost of living, which in turn appear to have discouraged families from having children. The low birth rate is also affected by the fact that the nineties generation – which was smaller than previous generations – has entered the childbearing age,” Müürsoo said. On average, there have been around 14,000 births a year since regaining independence, she added.

Last year, the average age of women giving birth was 31.2 years.

Citizen arrivals outnumber departures

In 2022, 6,981 Estonian citizens arrived in the country and 5,352 left – arrivals outnumbered departures by 1,629. The highest number of citizens of other countries arriving in Estonia were those with Ukrainian citizenship (33,217), ten times more than a year ago. Immigration of Russian citizens is also on the rise, with 1,918 arrivals last year, 1,860 in 2021 and 1,417 in 2020.

Population change in Estonia from 2010-2022.

The highest number of emigrants from Estonia still depart for Finland – 2,481 people left for the country (including 2,068 Estonian citizens), which is the lowest figure since 2018, and therefore Estonia’s net migration to Finland was positive again after a couple of years. All in all, 2,744 people returned from Finland, 2,374 of them Estonian citizens.

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