In Latvia, 43.2% of families are raising minor children
In preparation for the Population and Housing Census 2021 from administrative data sources, the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) is starting to publish statistics on families and the level of education of the population, first publishing data on family indicators in the beginning of 2020.
At the beginning of 2020, there were 508.7 thousand families in Latvia, which in comparison with the results of the Population and Housing Census 2011 has decreased by 79 thousand or 13%. The population has decreased by 167 thousand or 8% during this period. During this time, the share of single-parent families has increased.
The family nucleus (hereinafter – family) of a private household is one of the most complex census indicators. In Population and Housing Census family is regarded in a narrower meaning – it consists of a married or cohabiting couple with or without children, as well as single parent with one or more offspring. Only direct (first degree) kinship between descendants and parents is regarded - only a grandparent with his or her grandchildren is not counted as a family in this context. The age of the descendant is not considered - adult men and women who are living with their parents also have the status of sons and daughters. According to the census methodology, several families can live in one household - for example, a grandmother with a grandfather and one of their children with their child (in this case two families are formed - a married couple without children and one parent with a child). One person does not form a family and persons living in institutions are not regarded 1.
At the beginning of 2020, at least one child, under the age of 18, was growing up in 220 thousand families or in 43.2% of all families in Latvia.
The most common type of a family is single parent with one or more minor children
The most common type of a family is single parent with one or more minor children (23.6%), followed by couples without children (22.3%), while 16.2% are married couples with minor children. Compared to 2011, the share of single-parent families, especially formed by single mothers, has significantly increased. The growth of single-parent families is related to several factors: Latvia has the highest divorce rates in the European Union (3.1 divorces per 1000 population per year in 2019, where almost half of the cases were families with minor children), high index of extramarital births (about 40% of children are born out of wedlock each year) as well as high rate of emigration (more than a quarter of those who left the country are men aged 25-44, of which 1/3 were married). Families where one of the parents does not live permanently in Latvia are considered single-parent families. This increase is partly influenced by the change in the method of data preparation, as information on families is prepared in accordance with the information in the administrative data, using the registered place of residence of the population, applying additional adjustments.
Families in regions with children under the age of 18
The largest share of families with minor children is in Pierīga region – 48.1%, but the smallest one is in Latgale region – 37.7%.
In the total number of families the largest share of married couple families with children under the age of 18 is in Pierīga – 20.7%, but the smallest one is in Vidzeme – 13.3%. Pierīga is the only region where married couple families with at least one minor child is the most common type of family.
The share of couples with children living in unregistered cohabitation varies from 4.6% in Vidzeme to 2.4% in Riga and Latgale.
The share of single fathers with children in the total number of families is similar in all regions – 3–4%. The largest share of single mothers with children is in Riga – 22.7%, but the smallest one is in Latgale – 17.8%. Single mothers with children under the age of 18 are the most common type of family in Riga, Vidzeme and Zemgale.
Share of families with at least one child under the age of 18 at the beginning of 2020
(as per cent)
Number of families in municipalities
Families with minor children more often choose to live near Riga. Among the ten municipalities with the largest share of families with minor children in the total number of families, only one is located in Zemgale (Ozolnieki municipality), but the rest is in Pierīga – Mārupe municipality 66.6% of families are with minor children, in Ādaži municipality – 60.2% and in Babīte municipality – 58.5%. The lowest rates of such families are further from Riga, especially in Latgale – six out of ten municipalities with the smallest share of families with minor children are in Latgale, but five of the municipalities are located in frontier regions of Latvia.
Analysing data on families with minor children, seven out of ten municipalities with the largest share of families, where minor children grow up with only one parent, are located in frontier regions of Latvia. The largest share is in Zilupe (65.5%), Valka (60.7%) and Viesīte municipalities (60%), followed by Riga (59.2%), but the smallest share of such families is in Ikšķile (39.1%), Rucava (42.7%) as well as Garkalne and Carnikava municipalities (42.8%). Eight out of ten municipalities with the smallest share of single-parent families with minor children in the total number of families with minor children are in Pierīga.
Although Latgale has a small share of families with minor children, specifically in this region there are 16 out of 49 large families, where family (of one or both parents with children of all ages) consists of 11 persons and more.
1 Institutional housing - various organisations or institutions (hospitals, care homes for the elderly, monasteries, barracks, prisons, etc.) inhabited by persons for whom these institutions provide the necessary shelter and subsistence for a certain time period or permanently, as well as service hotels of educational institutions.