TALLINN - Researchers say that emigration has severely affected Estonia’s population as people have been taking advantage of their rights to travel freely within the European Union, reports Estonian national broadcasting. Precise population figures will be known at the conclusion of the national census - in March 2012.
According to Allan Puur, senior researcher at the Inter-university Population Research Center, the state could pay mother’s pensions, raise child allowances and promise free higher education, but that wouldn’t guarantee that the future generations will stay in Estonia.
The figures might not be encouraging, yet there is no reason to assume that the Estonian population will become extinct, though, he said.
The Population and Housing Census conducted in 2000 revealed that the number of people living in Estonia had decreased by 190,000 during the prior ten year period, leaving the country with a total of 1.37 million inhabitants. Approximately 25,000 Estonians have permanently moved north to Finland, according Tiit Tammaru, senior researcher in the Center for Estonian Diaspora Studies at the University of Tartu.
The first large-scale emigration to Finland took place in the early ’90s and in the past five years the numbers of those moving north have once again started growing, explained Tammaru. He added, however, that studies have shown that every fourth Estonian residing in Finland wants to return to their homeland.
Based on the decrease in the number of births in Estonia in the first three months of this year, specialists forecast that the number of births for the whole of this year will be lower than last year.
Pelgulinna maternity hospital’s quality manager, Eva-Kaisa Zupping, forecast a fall in the birth rate, considering earlier similar periods. The population facts department of the Estonian Ministry of Internal Affairs data indicate that in February, 145, and in March, 49 fewer births were registered than in the same months last year, and that altogether, 411 fewer children than in the first quarter of last year were born.
Statistics Office analyst Jaana Rahno was careful in drawing conclusions, though, saying that in recent years, the number of births has been the highest in summer months and, thus, only then conclusions can be drawn about the trend.