Latvia faces influx of immigrants - demographer

Latvia is one of the most glaring examples in Europe of "childless policy", demographer Ilmars Mezs points out in an interview with LETA, warning that, without changes, Latvia will face an influx of immigrants, exceeding that of Soviet times, and making Latvians a minority in their own country.

Mezs does not oppose immigration, he approves of it in balanced amounts. The demographer believes that, if Latvia's demographic policy remains unchanged, large immigrant communities will arrive in Latvia, bringing considerable changes to the structure of residents. He predicts that immigration will begin to peak in 2016 and 2017, when, according to the Economy Ministry's data, Latvia will be in dire need of workers.

Immigration grows slowly but steadily. 7,000 persons officially entered Latvia in 2011, some of them were former Latvian residents, but 5,000 were not EU residents.

Mezs believes that a similar trend will be observed in the next few years and predicts a particularly steep increase in the number of immigrants in five to ten years, when those who were not born 20 years ago will not enter the labor market. After one generation, the number of Latvians could reduce below that of Estonians, points out Mezs, adding that this can be prevented by immediate actions from politicians.

The demographer explains that Latvia's hope are young persons ages 25 to 35, who currently do not have a child or have only one, but will soon consider having one more. Mezs believes that, by not motivating this group and other Latvian residents to start families and expand them, the number of Latvians will be equal to the number of immigrants in 2050-2060 and reduce below 500,000 in 100 years.

Mezs emphasizes that joint work, across-the-board consolidation and support are required to improve the demographic situation in Latvia.