Demographic situation

Estonian development was strongly influenced by the fact that demographic transition proceeded according to the so-called French type, distinguished by a weak demographic explosion. Therefore, the population growth in Estonia during the demographic transition remained rather low, for that period the lowest among nation states in contemporary Europe, being lower than the same indicator for France. Only in very few years, the average population growth reached 10 per mill. Thus the explosive population growth, characteristic of demographic transition, never happened in Estonia — like the post-Second World War baby-boom. Below the reproduction level fertility thus survived for two postwar decades; the fertility level of the Estonian population was, during the 1950s, one of the lowest or even the lowest in Europe and hence also in the world. A new fertility rate increase started in the late 1960s.

The demographic transition in Estonia basically ended before the Second World War, but the fertility rate fell below the reproductive level in the late 1920s. Compared with mid-19th century, the average life expectancy had by that time almost doubled. The structure of the causes of death had changed fundamentally in favour of endogenous ones, although infant mortality, as in other nations, still remained at a rather high level.

The main features of Estonian demographic situation are determined by the demographic transition period, starting in mid-19th century and ending before the Second World War, and the processes occurring during that time. This period is characterised by a rapid, even an explosive population growth. The population growth often continues for several decades after the end of the demographic transition, and only then it stabilises or rather veers towards depopulation.

On the threshold of the 21st century, Estonia faces the same problems as all developed European states. Like in Europe, the main trend in population processes is expressed in the ageing of the population. There are, however, several factors that are typical of Estonia only. On the one hand, Estonian indigenous population had no explosive population growth, on the other, the 50-year Soviet occupation has certainly left its impact, together with the immigration from demographically less advanced areas.

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