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Some 31,731 persons declared emigration from Lithuania in January through June this year, which is a steep increase by about 10,000 persons, from 21,248, year-on-year, Statistics Lithuania said on Monday.
Air port
Air port
© Reuters / Scanpix

The highest emigration levels were reported in January and February, 7,048 and 6,895 persons, respectively.

As compared with last year's data, immigration levels have also gone up from 9,037 persons in the first half of 2016 to 11,962 in the same period this year.

Some experts say the increase of the emigration level is temporary, as at the start of the year emigration was declared by some of those who had left the country earlier to avoid the duty of paying mandatory health insurance, while others may have rushed to Great Britain before the start of its Brexit talks to leave the European Union (EU).

Emigration remains the main reason behind the decline in population.

Last year, Lithuania lost around 30,000 people due to emigration to Western Europe. Opinion polls show that the majority of emigrants leave Lithuania for Western Europe in search of higher pay, while some experts say emigration may be fueled by major inequality of income. The decline of population is also due to natural turnover, with death rate exceeding the birth rate by 9,600 last year.

The Lithuanian population shrank from 3.7 million in 1990 to 2.8 million this year due to aging and emigration.

Eurostat said on Monday that Lithuania lost the biggest respective share of its population in 2016 among all European Union nations – 14.2 individuals per population of 1,000.

Across the community, the population expanded by three persons per 1,000 residents, declining by 9.6 persons in Latvia and by 0.2 persons in Estonia.

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