In Latvia similar number of emigrants and immigrants registered
The data compiled by the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia (CSB) show that at the beginning of 2022 population of Latvia accounted for 1 million 876 thousand people, which is 17.5 thousand people fewer than a year ago. “The population decline recorded over the past year may be compared to the number of people currenty living in Salaspils and is caused by natural decrease, i.e., notable prevalence of deaths over births, and not by migration as prior,” says Baiba Zukula, Director of Social Statistics Department.
Last year population declined more sharply than a year before – by 0.92 % and 0.76 %, respectively, of which a drop of 0.91 % was due to natural decrease and of 0.01 % due to migration. Along with the increase in the number of Ukraine citizens who have applied for temporary protection in Latvia, the positive migration dynamics may be expected also in future.
Natural decrease registered over the past five years exceeded the negative difference in migration flows significantly. Moreover, the trend was growing last year, during COVID-19 pandemic when death rate went up, especially in January and autumn months.
Last year, mortality exceeded birth two times
Last year 17.4 thousand children were born in Latvia – 132 children or 0.8 % fewer than in 2020 (the lowest indicator recorded over the past hundred years), and 34.6 thousand people died – 5 746 people or 19.9 % more. Such a high mortality during the whole centenary (except for the war period) was observed only in the 90s of the 20th century.
Last year, mortality exceeded birth twice – 17.2 thousand people more died than were born (difference of 11.3 thousand in 2020), moreover it is the most significant natural decrease since 1995. On the other hand, due to long-term international migration population declined by only 286 people, which is the lowest indicator recorded since Latvia regained its independence.
Significant upturn in immigration, downturn in emigration to CIS countries
Along with the removal of coronavirus-curbing restrictions, immigration has risen sharply, even above the pre-pandemic rates. Compared to 2020, the number of immigrants has gone up by 43.5 % and of emigrants by only 8.2 %. In 2021, 12.7 thousand persons arrived to Latvia from other countries (3.8 thousand more than in 2020) and 13 thousand people left the country (1 thousand more). Out of the immigrants, 3.7 thousand people or 29.1 % of all immigrants came from the EU countries, 2.5 thousand people or 19.7 % came from the United Kingdom (2 thousand in 2020). The number of immigrants coming from the CIS countries – 3.1 thousand people – has risen more than twice (1.2 thousand or 60.5 % more than in 2020), of which 1.6 thousand immigrants came from Russia and 0.7 thousand from Belarus. Last year, 1.4 thousand people came from Ukraine.
Remigrants, i.e., citizens or non-citizens of Latvia as well as inhabitants having different citizenship but born in Latvia, accounted for almost 7 thousand or 54.8 % of the immigrants coming to Latvia in 2021 (4.7 thousand and 53 % in 2020). People prior legally not related to Latvia formed the rest part of the immigrants.
Last year, almost 13 thousand people left the country. Out of the emigrant number, 8.3 thousand people went to the EU countries (4.3 % more than a year ago). Emigration to the United Kingdom grew by 35.5 % as 2.5 thousand people left (1.9 thousand in 2020). Germany, in turn, was destination of 2.5 thousand emigrants (10.9 % more than in 2020). Significant downturn was observed in the emigration to CIS countries – of 40.1 %. Citizens of Latvia accounted for 71.4 % of the emigrant number (68.9 % in 2020).
Demography trends in Latvia, 2019–2021
2020, compared to 2019, %
2021, compared to 2020, %
per 1 000 inhabitants
Population, at the end of the year
1 907 675
1 893 223
1 875 757
Population ageing still observed, mean age – 42.9 years
The slight birth rise recorded between 2013 and 2016 resulted in larger population of children and young people, however since 2017 birth rate is reducing, and in 2021, compared to 2016, 4.5 thousand children fewer were born. Last year, population of children aged 14 and under declined by 2 986 people, however its share in the total population has been 16.0 % for three consecutive years Population aged 15–64 kept declining – by 12.4 thousand or 1.0 %. Unlike in previous years when elderly population was increasing, last year number of inhabitants aged 65 and over dropped slightly – by 2.1 thousand or 0.5 %, however their share in the total population grew from 20.8 % to 20.9 % over the year. Mean age of Latvia population is 42.9 years. In regional breakdown it varies between 40.7 years in Pierīga and 45.1 in Latgale.
Number of Latvians down by 0.5 %
In 2021 population decline was recorded among all largest ethnicities living in Latvia: number of Belarusians fell by 2.2 %, of Poles by 2.5 %, of Russians by 2.0 %, and of Ukrainians by 0.9 %. The number of Latvians dropped by 0.5 %, however their share in the total population grew by 0.3 percentage points, constituting 63.0 % at the beginning of 2022.
Out of the total population, 88 % were born in Latvia and 12 % were born abroad. Those born in the EU countries accounted for 1.2 %, in Russia 5.6 %, in Belarus 2.0 %, in Ukraine 1.7 %, and in other counties 1.4 %. Majority (96.9 %) of minor children were born in Latvia, followed by 1.2 % born in United Kingdom, 0.3 % in Ireland and Russia, and 0.2 % in Estonia.
As regards citizenship, 86.9 % of the population were citizens of Latvia (86.7 % at the beginning of 2021), 9.7 % were non-citizens of Latvia (10.1 %, respectively), 2.1 % were citizens of Russia (2.1 %), and 1.2 % were citizens of other countries. Majority of non-citizens of Latvia (50.9 %) lived in Riga, constituting 15.3 % of the total Riga population. Out of all non-citizens of Latvia, 74.4 % were aged 50 and over; the share of people having citizenship of other countries and belonging to this age group accounted for 60.8 % and only 37.5 % of the citizens of Latvia were at this age.
At the beginning of the year, before increase in the number of immigrants having citizenship of Ukraine, their number constituted 6 371 or 0.3 % of the total population of Latvia.
Married males account for almost half, females for 41 %
At the beginning of 2022, 49.2 % of males and 41.4 % of females of full age were married (3.4 % and 16.1 %, respectively, were widowed), while 35.1 % of males and 24.6 % of females were single. Out of all single adults, 70.4 % of males and 64 % of females were aged 39 or under.
Population increase observed in eight Pierīga municipalities
Last year, urban population of the country accounted for 1 million 282 thousand people or 68 % of the total population and rural population for 593 thousand people or 32 %.
More than a half (53 %) of the total population lived in Riga and Pierīga. However, over the past years inhabitants of the capital tend to move to Pierīga.
In 2021, population increase was recorded only in Pierīga – of 1.3 % or 4.7 thousand people, whereas the sharpest population decline was observed in Latgale – of 2.2 % (5.5 thousand), Vidzeme – of 1.4 % (2.6 thousand), Kurzeme – of 1.2 % (2.8 thousand), and Zemgale – of 1.1 % (2.5 thousand). Population of Riga declined by 1.4 % or 8.8 thousand people.
Almost 606 thousand people live in Riga, which is 32 % of the total population and 47 % of the urban population.
Last year, population decline was registered in nine cities out of ten (the exception was Jūrmala where an increase of 0.6 % or 313 people was recorded). The largest population decline was registered in Daugavpils – of 1.9 % (1 507 people), followed by Riga – 1.4 % (8 816), Rēzekne and Ventspils – 1.3 % (358 and 417, respectively), Jelgava – 1.2 % (642), Jēkabpils – 1.0 % (211), Liepāja and Valmiera – 0.9 % (604 and 214, respectively), whereas the smallest in Ogre – of 0.5 % (106 people). Number of deaths exceeded number of births in all mentioned cities. Positive net migration was recorded in Jūrmala, Jēkabpils and Ogre.
In 2021, population increase was registered in 8 municipalities out of 36 (all Pierīga municipalities – Ādaži, Ķekava, Mārupe, Olaine, Ropaži, Salaspils, Saulkrasti, Sigulda). All mentioned municipalities had positive net migration, whereas positive natural increase was recorded only in Mārupe, Ķekava and Ropaži municipalities. The most notable population increase was observed in Mārupe municipality (of 4.9 % or 1 607 people).
In terms of population, Ogre with 57.6 thousand and Valmiera with 50.8 thousand inhabitants are the largest municipalities, while Valka with 7.5 thousand and Varakļāni with only 2.9 thousand inhabitants are the smallest ones.
Population change by administrative territory, 2021
Largest share of children in Pierīga
Pierīga was the only region in which increase in the number of children aged 14 and under was observed (of 1.6 % or 1.1 thousand). The sharpest decline in children population was registered in Latgale (of 2.6 % or 0.9 thousand) and Riga (2.2 % or 2.1 thousand). The largest share of children and young people (aged 0–14) was recorded in Pierīga – 18.8 % of the total population in the region, whereas the smallest in Latgale – 13.6 %. Share of children in cities varied between 18.4 % in Jelagava and 14.6 % in Dagavpils. Mārupe was the youngest municipality with 27.3 % of children aged 14 and under in total population, whereas Krāslava and Augšdaugava had the smallest shares of children – only 11.3 % and 11.8 %, respectively.
The share of population aged 15–64 varied between 62.3 % in Kurzeme and 63.6 % in Latgale. Increase in the population of working age was registered only in Pierīga – of 2.8 thousand people; the sharpest decline was recorded in Riga – of 5.6 thousand, and Latgale – of 3.6 thousand. Share of population of working age varied between 63.3 % in Riga and 60.6 % in Valmiera. The smallest share of population of this age was observed in Valka municipality (59.9 %), whereas the largest in Rēzekne municipality (66.6 %).
In all regions, except for Pierīga, more than one fifth of population consists of people aged 65 and over (largest share in Latgale – 22.8 %, smallest in Pierīga – 18.1 %). Among cities, the highest share of population aged 65 and over was recorded in Ventspils (23.8 %) and smallest in Jelgava (19.5 %). Valka and Krāslava municipalities are the oldest ones with 25.3 % and 24.7 % of population aged 65 and over, whereas Mārupe had the smallest share of population at this age – 10.1 %.
Neighbouring populations remain stable
Over the past seven years population of Estonia has increased slightly, whereas population of Lithuania has declined a little. At the beginning of 2022 population of Estonia accounted for 1 332 million and of Lithuania for 2 795 million (provisional estimate).
Natural decrease may be observed in both countries, while net migration in Estonia has been positive for seven years in a row (returned to pre-pandemic level) and in Lithuania for three consecutive years. Estonian natural increase constituted -5.3 thousand and net migration +7 thousand. Lithuanian natural increase comprised -24.4 thousand and net migration +19.7 thousand.
Data source: Eurostat [demo_gind]
1 Statistics Estonia website https://www.stat.ee/// -050
2 Statistics Lithuania website https://osp.stat.gov.lt
Annual population estimate was drawn up based on the data in the Register of Natural persons of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs and other administrative data sources.
Statistics on administrative territories meets the provisions of the Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Areas in force as of 1 July 2021.
The Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Areas (adopted on 15.06.2020) defines new administrative territories, administrative centres, and units of territorial division thereof which entered into force on 1 July 2021. Statistics on the population of new territorial division is also published on the portal.
Natural increase – the difference between the number of births and the number of deaths over a given period.
Net migration – difference between the total number of persons arriving in the country for permanent residence for at least one year and total number of persons departing from it for permanent residence or for at least one year.