RIGA - Lack of tolerance in society cost Latvia between EUR 279 million and EUR 675 million in 2020, or an estimated 0.85 to 2 percent of GDP, Kristaps Kovalevskis, a project manager at KPMG Baltics, said at the Diversity and Inclusion Forum on Tuesday.
While the Latvian economy has been developing over the past decade, inclusion has been the area in which Latvia has been lagging behind other countries, the expert said.
According to Kovalevskis, an inclusive environment is a significant factor promoting economic growth, as it develops human capital which constitutes individual productivity and affects the productivity of the whole economy.
Based on the collected data, Kovalevskis has come to the conclusion that five negative factors are causing Latvia substantial economic costs - suicides of LGBT+ people, depressions, excessive alcohol consumption, loss of productivity and emigration.
The expert indicated public awareness of homosexuality has lately improved in Latvia, and according to representatives of the LGBT+ community, discrimination targeting sexual minorities has decreased.
Still, when it comes to legal rights, there are no signs that Latvia's society is becoming more inclusive. In 2021, Latvia's laws and regulations ensuring the security of LGBT+ people were more resembling legislation in Eastern European rather than Western European countries.
Also, Latvia's net migration rate remains negative as people leaving Latvia outnumber those moving to Latvia. Meanwhile, Lithuania and Estonia have managed to turn the situation around and make their net migration rates positive.
Kovalevskis noted that Latvia has the third highest suicide rate in the European Union (EU) and one of the lowest number of years of life spent in good health, which is due to unhealthy lifestyles and excessive alcohol consumption.