According to the preliminary data of Statistics Estonia, the country’s official statistics agency, on 1 January 2023, the population of Estonia was 1,357,739, which is 2% (25,943 people) more than the same time a year ago; immigration was the main contributor as births were at a record low.
In 2022, there were 11,588 births and 17,245 deaths in Estonia. Based on the data on registered migration, 42,022 people immigrated to Estonia and 10,422 people emigrated from Estonia. 75% (31,594) of the immigrants were from Ukraine.
Terje Trasberg, a leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, said 2022 was characterised by a record-low number of births and by the arrival of Ukrainian refugees.
“The number of deaths remained high, although it was slightly smaller than in 2021. However, the number of births in 2022 was at an all-time low, with just 11,588 births registered last year. The registered number of births has never been under 12,000 in Estonia, according to available population statistics dating back to 1919,” she said in a statement.
“The women giving birth now were born in the 1990s, when the number of births was low. Therefore, in addition to other reasons, the low number of births is also due to the fact that the current young generation is smaller than the previous one,” Trasberg pointed out.
The number of deaths still higher than before the pandemic
Birth rates are also affected by socio-political conditions in the country. The year 2021 was the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Estonia, and morbidity rate was the highest at the start of 2022, according to the statistics agency.
“Studies in other countries have also indicated a correlation between the pandemic and low birth rates. For example, in Latvia, the number of births was at a record low in 2020 and 2021 (based on statistics available since 1920),” it said.
Despite the negative natural increase (−5,657 in 2022, −5,317 in 2021), the population of Estonia as of 1 January increased by 25,943, or 2%, compared with 1 January last year.
“The population figure was boosted by immigration. The biggest impact can be attributed to Ukrainians who accounted for 75% of all immigrants in 2022,” Trasberg said.
The number of deaths, which grew sharply in 2021 (18,587), decreased slightly in 2022 (17,245), but there were still almost 1,500 deaths more last year than in the pre-pandemic years. In the period 2010–2019, the average number of deaths was 15,545 per year, while in the years 2020–2022 the average number of deaths was 17,214 per year. The higher number of deaths is related to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as well as to the ageing population.