Lowest-ever number of births predicted in Latvia in 2020

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An all-time low number of newborns is expected in Latvia this year, and COVID-19 crisis will certainly not improve birth rates, said demographer Ilmārs Mežs in an interview to Latvian Radio September 17.

Mežs said that this year the number of newborns could be around 18,000, and will be the lowest figure of all time since the twenties of last century, when such statistics began to be compiled.

Eurostat forecasts show that by 2050 Latvia's population will fall from the current 1.899 million to 1.4 million, said Mežs. He pointed out that, at the same time, neighbouing Estonia, with its successful family policy, would be able to halt the decline in population, and there are likely to be more residents in Estonia than in Latvia in the future.

Mežs mentioned the lack of a coordinated family policy in Latvia. The Ministry of Family Affairs has been closed since the 2009 crisis, while in Estonia and in several other European countries such ministries have been working successfully.

“I do not mean the cultivation of the official apparatus,” said Mežs, noting that officials working on these matters in several ministries with scattered responsibilities can be combined.

Mežs said that Estonia's family policy is also attracting remigrants, and support for families is much higher, for example in Latvia the allowance for the family of 3 children is €134, in Estonia – €520. “Estonia's budget is a bit larger, but not 3 times more, it's political will,” added Mežs.

The demographer was hopeful about the possibility of raising the amount of the state family allowance in next year's budget.

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