Executive summary

AuthorKamenska, Anhelita
1. Introduction
Latvia is a multi-ethnic country, although the proportion of the different ethnic groups
among its population has varied. Ethnic origin is recorded in the population register. It is
based on the ethnicity of either of a person’s parents and can be changed upon reaching
the age of majority by choosing the ethnicity of any grandparents. The entry of ethnicity
in passports is optional. In 2011, of a population of 2 067 887, 62.1 % were Latvians,
26.9 % Russians, 3.3 % Belarusian s, 2.2 % Ukrainians, 2.2 % Poles, 1.2 % Lithuanians,
0.3 % Jewish, 0.3 % Roma, 0.1 % Estonians, 0.1 % Germans, and 1. 3 % others.1
Latvian citizens number 1 775 839 or 84.74 % of the population; of these, ethnic
Latvians constitute 71.08 %, while the remain ing citizens are r epresentatives of dif ferent
minorities and 10.72 % of them, or 224 670 inhabitants, are non-citizens,2 of which
ethnic Russians ar e the largest grou p. Therefore, issues relating to non-cit izens are often
treated as mainly concerning Russians or Russian-speakers, and the rights of citizens and
non-citizens, as well as linguistic issues, remain sensitive. There are over 73 000 third-
country nationals, of which the largest group are citizens of Russia (53 934), followed by
Ukrainians (8 188) and Belarusians (3 518).3
The Roma population in Latvia is relatively small, at 7 060 (2018),4 although it is higher
according to data from Roma associations.5 In a 2015 survey, 82.3 % of Roma alleged
that they or their r elatives had been r efused work due to th eir ethnic origin .6 As of 2016,
there are no longer separate Roma classes in Latvia. Nevertheless, the share of Rom a
children attending special schools 34 % in 2016/2017 is disproportionally high, and
has increased by 7 % com pared with 2013/2014.7
There have been no recent studies on age discrimination. Nevertheless, according to
surveys, age discrimination (i.e. discrimination against those over 55) is perceived as the
most frequent type of discrimination.8 The difficulties of disabled persons in finding
employment are also common knowledge, although there are no sufficiently
representative studies t o confirm this.
There have been n o recent relevant studies or reports regarding ethni c minorities or
discrimination on the ground of racial or ethnic origin, except for a r eport in 2010: ‘Ethnic
1 2011 Population Census.
2 Non-citizens are a special category of people former USSR citizens who were resident in Latvia on
01.07.1991 and have not obtained citizenship of any other country, thus this term does not encompass
foreign citizens and stateless persons . Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, Statistics of the Population
Register (01.01.2019), Latvian population breakdown by nationality, availa ble at:
https://www.pmlp.gov.lv/lv/assets/backup/ISV P_Latvija_pec_VPD.pdf.
3 Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, Statistics of the Population Reg ister.
4 Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, Statistics of the Population Reg ister (01.01.2019), Latvian
population breakdown by nationality and ethnic affiliation, available at:
https://www.pmlp.gov.lv/lv/assets/backup/ISV N_Latvija_pec_TTB_VPD.pdf.
5 Latvijas Fakti Market and Social Research Centre (2015), Roma in Latvia (Romi Latvij). p 44. The r esearch
was conducted under a project entitled ‘Diff erent people. Diverse experience. One Latvia II’, No.
JUST/2013/PROG/AG/4978/AD, p. 5, available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/file s/summaries_selected_2013_ag_prog_ad_en.pdf.
6 Tirgus un socilo ptjumu centrs “Latv ijas Fakti” (2015), Romi Latvij. Ptjuma zio jums 2015, p. 61,
available in Latvian at:
https://www.km.gov.lv/uploads/ckeditor/file s/Sabiedribas_integracija/Romi/Papildu/romi_latv ija_petijums_
7 Ministry of Culture (2014), Informative Report on the Impleme ntation of Roma Integration Policy Measures
(Informatvais ziojums par romu integrcijas politikas paskumu stenošanu Latvij), p. 12, availavle at:
https://www.km.gov.lv/uploads/ckeditor/file s/Sabiedribas_integracija/Romi/Dokumenti/Info-
8 European Commission (2015), Special Eurobarometer 437: Discr imination in the European Union in 2015.

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