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Henry M. Robert

Population to drop to 35 million by 2065?

Russians, Belarusians, and Jews leave the country, but the number of Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Georgians, Crimean Tatars, and Romas increased over the past 12 years
4 February, 2014 - 11:06

According to the average index calculated by Ukrainian demographers, there will be 35 million of Ukrainians by 2065. Experts think this number is not critical. They suppose that the inflow of migrants will help to improve the demographic situation. Without it, the population of Ukraine will be even smaller.

Demographers state that today Ukrainians make up 79 percent of Ukraine’s population. This ratio has not changed drastically since 2001. Meanwhile, the number of Russians is decreasing: from 17.3 percent in 2001 to 16.3 percent today. There were 0.6 percent of Belarusians 13 years ago, and there are 0.5 percent of them now. The number of representatives of other ethnic groups (Polish, Germans, Jews) has decreased as well.

However, the population size of five ethnoses (Crimean Tatars, Romanians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians) has increased. Also experts say that the number of migrants from Southeast Asia, Africa, and China is not big enough to seriously influence the ethnic composition of the population. In general, migrants from all major Asian and African countries (from all large states, except for the Persian Gulf and the Asian Tigers countries) are living and working in Ukraine.

These data provide basis for a demographic forecast for the country for the next 15 to 50 years: the number of Slavic inhabitants will decrease, and that of migrants from former Soviet republics and Southeast and African countries will increase. According to demographers’ forecasts, in 2026 the number of Russians will be equal to 13.9 percent, Belarusians to 0.3 percent. Russians will permanently move to the Russian Federation, and the number of Belarusians will mainly decrease due to mixed marriages.

A nationwide census could yield more precise data and forecasts. According to the UN recommendation, it should be carried out every 10 years. The first and the only Ukrainian census took place in 2001. A census is needed to form the strategy of a country’s development, to know the structure of the population. In 2012, Ukraine prepared to the 2013 census, but the government did not fund it. Now, according to Ella Libanova, head of the Institute for Demography and Social Studies, another census should not be expected until the end of 2015.

COMMENTARY

Oleksii POZNIAK, Candidate of Economic Sciences, head of migration studies at the Ptukha Institute for Demography and Social Studies:

“We carried out an assessment of the ethnic composition of Ukrainian population according to the 2001 census data. The number of Ukrainians has decreased, but only slightly. The number of Russians has decreased significantly. We study only large, numerous ethnic groups, counting 30,000 representatives and more. We have 18 of that kind. The smaller an ethnos is, the smaller the validity of such assessments. That is why I can speak with confidence that such an assessment is accurate for Ukrainians and Russians. It might contain errors for other ethnoses. A population census gives the most precise data.

“In general Ukraine will require migrants. In a rather short period of time, work force shortage will become apparent in Ukraine. As a rule, migrants work in trade and construction spheres. They are from Azerbaijan, Georgia, other former Soviet republics, and also Turkey. Such processes are happening everywhere, but in richer countries they are more intense: more migrants from poor regions of the world arrive.

“The reasons for these ethnoses’ growth in Ukraine are that birth rate in those countries is higher. It can be seen among representatives of Transcaucasian ethnoses and Crimean Tatars. Romas can also be included into this category. But the thing is they are concentrated in rural areas of Ukraine (in Chernivtsi and partially Transcarpathian oblasts), and respectively, birth rate among rural population is higher. Birth rate is related to traditions that exist in this or that group, and death rate to living standards. Since these standards are basically the same everywhere in Ukraine, death rate does not show significant differentiation. The only thing is that death rate is higher among the Romani population (due to their nomadic lifestyle and poor sanitation).”

By Oksana MYKOLIUK, The Day
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