Challenges and Solutions
Edited by Martin Kahanec and Klaus F. Zimmermann
Chapter 8: Labor Market Integration of Ethnic Minorities in Latvia
8. Labor market integration of ethnic minorities in Latvia Mihails Hazans INTRODUCTION Ethnic Composition of Population In Latvia the majority (or titular) population consists of ethnic Latvians. By 2008 this group however accounted for less than 60 percent of the total population, down from 77 percent in 1935, but well above the low of 52 percent at the end of the Soviet era. The dynamics were driven by a massive inflow of population from other parts of the former Soviet Union in 1944 to 1990, followed by return migration in 1991 to 2005, when the Republic of Latvia once more gained independence. Most of the minority population is of Eastern-Slavic origin: Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians accounted for more than one-third of the country’s population in 2008 (compared to just 10 percent in 1935 and 42 percent in 1989). Poles and Lithuanians together account for less than 4 percent, and other ethnic groups less than 3 percent of the total population (see Table 8.1). More than 70 percent of non-Latvians live in the seven largest cities; for Latvians this proportion is half as large. On the other hand 41 percent of Latvians and just 17 percent of non-Latvians live in the countryside (see Figure 8.1 for details). Six of the seven largest cities have very high shares of non-Latvians in their population: in three cases it is between 45 and 50 percent; in two (including the capital city, Riga) between 50 and 60 percent; and in one city more than 80...
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