Latvia on verge of extinction (4)
Rahvusvahelised uudised 23 Feb 2013  EWR
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Transitions Online, February 22
A demographer has issued the latest of several warnings that Latvia is on the brink of demographic disaster. Citing a recent television interview, The Baltic Times reports that researcher Ilmars Mezs said the country has only a few years to prevent an irrevocable population drop.

Mezs said the next five years will be defining, as the number of women of child-bearing age will drastically decrease. He suggested the government offer better tax breaks for families with children, government-backed mortgages for families, and better access to kindergartens, according to The Baltic Times.

The demography crisis has been a stubborn problem for the small Baltic country. The census revealed that Latvia’s population dropped from 2.2 million in 2000 to 2.0 million in 2011, France24 reported last year. The news agency cited an Economy Ministry study that warned the country’s population could sink to 1.6 million by 2030. Mezs predicted last year that with current trends there would be only 300,000 Latvians left in the country by 2100, according to The Baltic Times.

Much of that decline is driven by emigration among the young who escaped Latvia’s double-digit unemployment during the economic crisis.

Latvian authorities have been contemplating policies to boost the countries’ birth rate and to woo back skilled expatriates. In October the parties in the coalition government agreed to set aside 12 million lats ($22.7 million) from the 2013 budget to boost families, The Baltic Times reported. The measures include payments for families with young children, preschool subsidies, and higher tax exemptions for dependents.

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