Population shrinks 16% in 14 years

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Over the past 14 years 238,000 people have emigrated from Latvia, according to data presented Wednesday by the Economics Ministry.

Ministry spokesman Olegs Baranovs told a meeting of the Saeima’s Citizenship, Migration and Social Integration committee on Wednesday that between the years 2000 and 2014, the number of residents in Latvia fell by 16%. "Two thirds of it was due to emigration," he said.

Baranovs said that the migration wave hit Latvia in 2009 and since then 125,000 people have moved to live abroad. On a more positive trend, the number of emigrated Latvians has begun to drop since 2011, while immigration has picked up, even though it is still not as high as emigration.

The main reason given why Latvians might be ready to return to Latvia is the improving prospect of finding well-paid jobs, said the ministry. The ministry believes that Latvians might return to Latvia in greater numbers when the minimum wage in the country is at the same level as in those countries to which the people have emigrated.

The Economics Ministry on Wednesday presented its proposed repatriation support measures to the same parliamentary committee.

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