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Latvia's population shrank 17 thousand in 2015

According to data released Friday by Latvia's Central Statistical Bureau the country's population shrank 0.86% or by 17,100 people, in contrast to a decrease of 0.77% or 15,400 people in 2014.

The statistics signal that Latvia's population shrank at a faster rate than a year ago. 

According to the data, there were 1.969m people living in Latvia at the beginning of 2016.

There are still more deaths than births in Latvia - 28.5 thousand deaths vs. 22 thousand births - and emigration is still faster than immigration with 20.1 thousand having left Latvia and 9.5 having immigrated. 

Net emigration in 2015 increased by 1.1 thousand and immigration shrank by 0.9 thousand.

Estonia's population increased by 1,074 in 2015, while data on Lithuania's population are to be released May 30.

See the full data HERE.

Rus.lsm.lv reported that in Q1 2016 Latvia's birth rate increased 2% in comparison to the same period in 2015. Subtracting deaths during the period, the rate of natural increase was one person.

Many deaths could have come later in Latvia if the country had better healthcare. According to Eurostat, almost half of deaths in Latvia come too soon.

The state encourages people to become parents, for example, by backing family mortgages. However now it seems the initiative will shift towards a commercial nature, making the prospect of buying a family home much less likely for some.

From 1995 to 2014 Latvia's population shrunk to 2m from 2.5m. The bulk of the decrease can be attributed to emigration.

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