No. 46




Depopulation Patterns – Impact of Population Decline on Estonia’s Living Environments and Housing Stock

14 December 2022


RiTo No. 46, 2022

  • Kristi Grišakov

    Kristi Grišakov

    Head of Policy and Analysis, Spatial Planning Department, Ministry of Finance

  • Lauri Lihtmaa

    Lauri Lihtmaa

    Expert, Nearly Zero Energy Buildings Research Group, Tallinn University of Technology

  • Damiano Cerrone

    Damiano Cerrone

    Head of Urban Research, Spin Unit OÜ

  • Targo Kalamees

    Targo Kalamees

    Professor of Building Physics, Tallinn University of Technology

  • Lill Sarv

    Lill Sarv

    Researcher, Academy of Architecture and Urban Studies, Tallinn University of Technology

The purpose of the research into depopulation patterns was to determine which settlements and building types in Estonia were experiencing depopulation, based on data from power consumption and the Population Register.

‘The research culminated in a detailed analysis and a map on the empty dwellings and socio-spatial dynamics related to the reasons behind their vacancy, which should be used in planning specific steps, decisions, and support instruments to strategically manage the spatial depopulation of living environments in Estonia.

The power consumption data indicated that over 50,000 dwellings were vacant in Estonia in 2019. Three out of five of these were in apartment buildings. Large apartment buildings (at least 31+ habitable rooms) from 1960–1980 have remained populous although the data indicates a steady trend towards depopulation. The data points to small towns and villages being most at risk from depopulation, but we must also keep up the quality of spaces in central towns and invest in these. Just as carefully as we are planning the growth, we must also learn and be willing to direct the decline from the spatial standpoint.