ERR News – Continuing population loss due to declining birth rates and emigration are the most significant problem facing the Baltic states, according to the authors of the newly-released Estonian Human Development Report.
The report, presented in Tallinn on September 5, noted that the collective populations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had dropped by 1.5 million, or 15 percent, from 1990 to 2010, the fastest decline seen in Europe during that period.
The worse news is that the number of young people will continue to decline in all three countries, the report predicted, with the most serious losses in Latvia.
"While the population of Europe will continue to grow gradually, all of the Baltic states will face decline. The Baltic decline, especially in Latvia and Lithuania, will also be the steepest in Europe in the long term," the chapter on population changes read.
"This […] will be a challenge for many markets including public services like education, health care, local public administration, etc. Estonia, as the smallest, will be mostly influenced by total decline, because the local markets for public services are already with limited capacity."
Estonia and Latvia are especially vulnerable to emigration as they have the highest share of foreign-born and non-nationals in the EU, 16 percent and 18 percent respectively, the report said. For Estonia though, the largest driver of outward migration in coming decades is likely to be Finland, with its high workforce demand.
The report, produced by the Cooperation Assembly group of NGOs, analyzed the social, economic and political developments in the country over past two decades.