Reshaping population policies during the depopulation: case of Latvia

Juris Krumins, University of Latvia
Atis Berzins, University of Latvia

Background: Latvia, like many transition countries, faced depopulation both due to natural decrease and negative net migration since beginning of transition to market economy in 1991. Depopulation took place in all regions of the country and in all republican cities, it affected both native and foreign-born population, all major ethnic groups. A need for serious revision of previous attitude towards demographics issues and further developments appeared on political and societal arena. Objective of the study is to analyze parliamentarian, governmental and NGO’s responses to fast decline in total number of population in Latvia and its demographic and societal sub-groups particularly focusing on population policies implications. Data and methods: Current statistics, population register and socio-demographic survey data are analysed on national and regional level. Content and linguistic analysis of the parliamentarian (Saeima) debate corps and several strategy and policy documents touching depopulation and population policy issues is performed over the pre- and post accession years to the European Union, with particular emphasis to recent economic crisis. Contribution: This study adds to previous rather fragmented literature on population policies issues in country severely affected by depopulation and recent economic crisis a new integrated insight in reaction to demographic crisis made by different policy makers and actors. Conclusions: Findings suggests that in spite of many population policy documents and action plans, supported by almost all political parties and governments, consequent and efficient population policy actions to terminate natural and migratory decrease has not succeeded yet. More efficient socio-economic measures oriented towards return migration, integration of asylum seekers and other immigrant groups together with greater support for families and couples with children could improve a demographic situation and to terminate depopulation.

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Presented in Poster Session 1