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Friday 20.10.2017 | Name days: Leonīda, Leonīds
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Swedbank: Latvian population might fall below 2 million

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Lija Strasuna

The latest population Census 2011 results require urgent and decisive action from the part of the state. It needs to carry out reforms in economic, social, regional, educational policies. It is really either now or later it will be too late, because problems will only soar and possible solutions will become increasingly painful, says Swedbank chief economist Lija Strašuna.

If the trend goes on, in two years the Latvian population will fall below two millions, the economist warns.

Census 2011 results released today show that there are 2 068 thousand people in Latvia, not 2259 as listed in the previous population census. University of Latvia professor Michael Hazan’s estimates of emigration have proven to be highly accurate. During 2000 and 2011, emigration has deprived Latvia from 190 thousand people. Moreover, this figure is a relatively cautious one, because, first, it does not take into account those who emigrated after 1 March 2011. Secondly, there are cases, when people do not indicate the actual situation (for example, they conceal that their relative has emigrated), Strasuna says.

The data published allow to conclude that over the past decade population’s age structure (the number of pensioners is up, while the proportion of children has declined) has changed dramatically. So has the regional distribution. In the Latvian region of Latgale there is now about 21% smaller population than back in 2000. Also, in March 2011 only 838 thousand people or only 52% of the working age population were employed. However, 2011 Q1 labour force survey data showed 944 thousand. On the one hand, it shows that the existing employed population is much more productive. On the other hand, it points to a larger social burden on taxpayers.

The unemployment rate has turned out to be higher than previously estimated. Last year in March the proportion of job seekers accounted for 17.7% of the economically active population aged 15-74 years. This opposes the previously reported 16.6% in 2011 Q1. This, unfortunately, points at higher structural unemployment (the unemployed cannot find work because their skills do not meet the required employer and/or potential place of employment is in another region), the economist says.

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