No. 33




Immigration culture in a childless country

08 June 2016


RiTo No. 33, 2016

  • Rein Taagepera

    Professor Emeritus of University of Tartu and University of California, Irvine

It is a basic human right to leave one’s country freely. To enter another country freely is not. Permission is needed. It is common decency to give shelter to refugees when they are few. But one has the right to control one’s borders when there are so many refugees or other would-be immigrants that the society would crumble under their weight, or would change beyond recognition.

For a culture to survive, it is necessary to avoid overly abrupt change as well as stifling lack of change. Having children is the simplest way to pass on culture. When a nation is too lazy to raise children, it needs immigrants to support its pensioners. To preserve culture, these immigrants must be acculturated to those aspects that are deemed essential.

For Estonia, language is the central focus of national culture. Efficient ways for language acquisition by immigrants must be found. Formal classroom teaching of Estonian is a hopeless strategy, if Estonians in the street shift to broken English when hearing broken Estonian. Estonia risks becoming a transit station on the way toward the Nordic countries. Its interest lies in keeping those immigrants who already have learned some Estonian. This means making life tolerable for those immigrants rather than shunning them.

Full article in Estonian