Demographic slump to change Latvia's economy

As Latvia is seeing a demographic slump, schools and kindergartens will have to close within the next few years. It is also forecast that Latvia will have to revise its immigration policies, reported LTV on August 6.

About 1,000 fewer people were born in Latvia on year in the first six months of 2017. While pink and blue balloons at the Riga Maternity Hospital still appear often, testifying to new Latvians being born, specialists say the number of births is shrinking there too.

Last year 630 to 640 babies were delivered there each month but now the number is closer to 500 with July being the only exception.

Latvia's population growth has been negative since 1991. The demographic crisis is exacerbated by many people leaving to live in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere.

Newborn numbers are expected to decrease even further as fertility rates dropped a generation ago in the 90s, said Sigita Šulca, a representative of the Central Statistics Office.

Shrinking populations will put a strain on Latvia's budget as there'll be fewer economically active people and consequently less paid in taxes. At the same time the number of pre-retirement and retired people will increase, says Finance Ministry representative Dainis Stikuts.

The country's budget is expected to shrink and schools and universities are bound to be closed due to the demographic slump.

Economists say creating new jobs could help, however specialists would have to be brought in from elsewhere. 

"We have to think about smart immigration that doesn't put our cultural environment under risk. For example, there are foreign students studying in Latvia. Maybe they could become residents of Latvia. I don't know whether that'd be enough," he says. 

Latvia's population by age group (2012-2017 – current data; 2023-2037 – forecasts assuming zero migration and mortality)

 

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