Population to remain around 1.9 million says Certus think-tank

Though Latvia's population will continue to shrink in coming decades, the rate of decline may not be as rapid as widely predicted, according to new research released June 1 by the Certus think-tank.

The research by Daunis Auers and Sergejs Gubins is titled 'Latvia's demographic portrait today and... tomorrow' (sic).

"The big message is that demographic decline can be slowed, although reversing is trickier. The other message is that we need to prepare for continuing urbanisation," Daunis Auers told LSM.

The report suggests that between today and 2030 Latvia's population will see only a slight decline. Official figures put the population at 1.97 million in 2016 and the figure will remain "slightly below" 1.9 million in 2030 and fairly stable thereafter, the research suggests.

That contrasts with United Nations predictions that by 2030 the population will be 1.8 million and by 2050 just 1.6 million.

However the population will  continue to age so that by 2030 a quarter of residents will be over the age of 65, and rural districts will find their populations and tax bases challenged by internal migration to cities.

On a more positive note, the birth rate is predicted to pick up while the death rate remains fairly stable, slowly closing the gap between the two.

Giving further cause for optimism net migration is expected to turn positive from previous huge net outflows of workers some time around 2020-2022.

"Latvia's demographic situation in the near future looks more promising than it has recently, however, the public and policy makers have to come to terms with future realities - a reduced total population, an increasingly urbanized society company, an ageing population - and act accordingly," the research concludes.

Speaking on LTV's 'Morning panorama' news show Certus' chief economist and former Economics Minister Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis said that though the figures were more optimistic than previous predictions they were "not a miracle".

"A miracle is not going to happen. The population will reduce, especially in the regions. In Riga and Riga region it will increase. But this reduction will not be as significant as previously thought," Dombrovskis said.

And according to Certus, if the economy develops in line with an optimistic scenario, it will help boost the population as wages and job opportunities will make the labor market more attractive. GDP growth of 5% per annum rather than the expected 3% would make a difference of around 50,000 to the population.

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