Press Release

Lower birth and migration rates recorded in Latvia

Latest data compiled by the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia (CSB) show that at the beginning of 2019 population of Latvia accounted for 1 million 920 thousand people, which is 14.4 thousand people fewer than a year ago. In 2018, as a result of international long-term migration population of the country dropped by 4.9 thousand people, which is the lowest indicator recorded over the past 20 years, whereas the negative natural increase resulted in two times bigger reduction (of 9.5 thousand people).

From 2008 to 2016, the number of emigrants was prevailing over that of immigrants, while as emigration reduced the negative natural increase recorded in the past two years exceeded the negative migration flow difference. Over the last three years, the total population of the country has been reducing slower – the decline registered last year accounted for 0.74 %, compared to 0.96 % in 2016.

Last year, 19.3 thousand children were born (1 514 children fewer than in 2017), whereas 28.8 thousand people passed away (63 more than the year before). The negative natural increase constituting 9.5 thousand people is the highest one recorded over the past seven years.

In 2018, 10.9 thousand people arrived in Latvia from other countries (one thousand more than in 2017) and 15.8 thousand people left the country (1.9 thousand more than in 2017).

Out of the immigrants, 4.5 thousand people or 41 % came from the European Union (EU) countries. Citizens and non-citizens of Latvia as well as people having other citizenship but born in Latvia accounted for 4.9 thousand people or 44 % of all immigrants. People not legally related to Latvia formed the rest part of the immigrants.

Out of the emigrants, 13.2 people emigrated to the EU countries, and United Kingdom and Germany were the most popular destinations. Citizens of Latvia constituted 82 % of the emigrants.

Demography trends in Latvia; 2016–2018





2017, as % compared to 2016

2018, as % compared to 2017

per 1 000 inhabitants



Population, at the end of the year

1 950 116

1 934 379

1 919 968






21 968

20 828

19 314






28 580

28 757

28 820






8 345

9 916

10 909






20 574

17 724

15 814






Pierīga population is growing

Regional breakdown of the population shows that in 2018 population increase was recorded only in Pierīga (of 0.9 % or 3.3 thousand people). The most notable population decline, in turn, was observed in Latgale region (of 1.7 % or 4.6 thousand people). More detailed statistics for population change and ethnicities in regions and municipalities will be published on 7 June. 

Demographic characteristics of usually resident population, at the beginning of 20191
(as per cent)

Demographic characteristics of usually resident population, at the beginning of 2019


Population ageing still observed

The slight birth increase in 2013–2016 facilitated rise in the number of children and young people, however in 2018 the number of children aged 0–14 fell, as the number of births was 1.5 thousand smaller than in 2017. The share of children and young people in the total population accounts for 15.9 %. Population at working age kept declining (by 16.5 thousand people or 1.4 %) and population over working age kept growing (by 2.3 thousand in 2018). The share of people at working age in the total population rose from 22.5 % at the beginning of 2018 to 22.8 % at the beginning of 20191.

In 2018, population decline was recorded among all largest ethnicities in Latvia: number of Poles fell by 2.2 %, of Lithuanians by 2.1 %, of Belarussians by 2 %, and of Russians  by 1.8 %. The number of Latvians dropped by 0.5 %, however their share in the total population, regardless the total population decline, grew by 0.1 percentage points, constituting 62.3 % at the beginning of 2019.

In respect to the citizenship, 86.1 % were citizens of Latvia (85.9 % at the beginning of 2018), 10.7 % were non-citizens of Latvia (11.1 %) and 2.2 % were citizens of Russia (2.2 %). Majority of the non-citizens of Latvia (51 %) lived in Riga, constituting 17 % of the total Riga population. Out of all non-citizens of Latvia, 71 % were aged 50 and over; the share of people having citizenship of other countries and belonging to this age group accounted for 64 % and that of Latvians only for 37 %.

For comparison, here is some vital statistics for the Baltic states: at the beginning of 2019 population of Estonia accounted for 1 million 324.8 thousand people (rise of 5.7 thousand, compared to 2018). Natural increase in Estonia was negative as well – 1.4 thousand (14.4 thousand people were born and 15.8 thousand people died in 2018), while international long-term net migration was positive – 7.1 thousand (17.6 thousand people immigrated and 10.5 thousand emigrated). Provisional population of Lithuania, in turn, accounted for 2 million 794 thousand at the beginning of 2019 (population decline of 14.9 thousand people). Natural increase in Lithuania was negative as well – 11.6 thousand (28 thousand births and 40 thousand deaths in 2018) as was the net migration – 3.3 thousand3.

Annual population estimate was drawn up based on the data of the Population Register of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs and other administrative data sources. In a few years – in May 2021 – the same method will be used to conduct Population and Housing Census, and population will not be surveyed. Therefore, the statistics for annual usually resident population of the country at the beginning of 2021 will be used as the results of the Census 2021.

Census 2021, being the most extensive and oldest population survey, hereinafter will be fully based on administrative data. Such an approach will be a big step towards producing statistics meeting the latest requirements in the field and will allow Latvia to join the group of well-developed Northern countries using the same method. CSB has already developed and tested largest part of the methodology used to produce high quality indicators. The method allows saving resources, moreover response burden on the country inhabitants is eliminated.


Methodological explanations

Natural increase – the difference between the number of births and the number of deaths in a given period.
Net migration – difference between the total number of persons arriving in the country for permanent residence for at least one year and total number of persons departing from it for permanent residence or for at least one year.

1 Usually resident population in main age groups is calculated based on the age in full years in line with the working and retirement age set by the Latvian legislation. At the beginning of 2019, working age constituted 15–62 years (incl.) and retirement age – 63 years and over.

2 Press release published on Statistics Estonia website on 9 May

3 Press release published on Statistics Lithuania website on 23 May


Media requests:

Communication Section
Phone: +371 67366989, +371 27880666

More information on data:
Baiba Zukula
Social Statistics Methodology Section
Phone:+371 67366847


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