Birth rate drops, demographic crisis deepens

Provisional demographic indicators on the first three months of 2017 compiled by the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) show that, compared to the same period a year ago, in the 1st quarter of 2017 in Latvia 365 fewer children were born (drop of 6.9 %).

Since 2011, the number of live births in Latvia is increasing gradually, however in 2016, as compared to 2015, the growth slowed down, and in the first three months of 2017 the number of newborn registered – 4,948 – is by 365 babies smaller than that recorded in the corresponding period of 2016.

Over the three months of this year, also the number of deaths has gone up – 8,031 deaths were registered, which is 183 or 2.3 % more than in the corresponding period of 2016.

Natural population increase in Latvia has been negative since 1991. During the first three months of 2017, as the number of deaths exceeded the number of births, Latvia's population declined by 3,083 persons (2,535 in the corresponding period of 2016).

After stable increases in the number of recorded marriages over a five-year period, in 2016 the indicator reduced, and the increase observed during the three months of 2017 is very small –1 656 marriages were registered, which is only 30 marriages more than in the corresponding period of 2017.

It all adds up to more worries about a looming demographic crisis in which an aged population will no longer be supported by a smaller number of young people and the labor market suffers from a shortage of workers.

Efforts to reverse the trend via policy measures appear to be having limited effect so far and large-scale emigration to other EU member states is further exacerbating the problem.

According to the latest estimate, on 1 April 2017, the provisional population of Latvia was 1,946,000.

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