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Ukraine has lost 10 million inhabitants since 2001... and could lose as many by 2050

The demographic future appears very bleak for Ukrainians.

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Ukraine has lost 10 million inhabitants since 2001... and could lose as many by 2050

The demographic future appears very bleak for Ukrainians. Devastated by Russian bombs for more than two years, the country must face a “very alarming” drop in its population, Ukrainian Minister of Social Policy Oksana Zholnovych warned at a public forum in kyiv on Tuesday. April 21. Since the start of the war in February 2022, Ukraine has lost more than four million inhabitants, reports the Kyiv Post. According to the United Nations database, the population increased from 42 million at the start of 2022 to 37.9 million today.

This dizzying collapse is obviously linked to the war. But the phenomenon is deeper and older. In December 2001, the Ukrainian Statistics Service counted 48.5 million inhabitants. In 1992, the population even reached 52 million inhabitants. And according to forecasts from the Minister of Social Policy, the population could still lose 10 million inhabitants by 2050, falling to 25.2 million. That’s a drop of more than 50% in almost 60 years.

In addition to the still unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians killed since the start of the war, this collapse can be explained by several older social-economic criteria: a mortality rate that exceeds an already low birth rate (1,2) , a deterioration in the health of the population, an increase in the number of disabled people, a high level of premature mortality and demographic aging. In addition, the war has accelerated the massive forced emigration of the population, since approximately 6.3 million people left the country during the period 2022-2023 due to hostilities and the occupation of part of the country. territory.

The security risks linked to the conflict have therefore either pushed residents to leave or to have fewer children. And this situation could persist in the long term, given the mining of a significant part (at least 29%) of Ukrainian territory, which will not encourage the return of populations, nor the desire to have children. This feeling will also be exacerbated by the lack of housing. According to the Kyiv School of Economics, the total number of destroyed and damaged housing units amounted to more than 250,000 buildings in January 2024, including 222,000 private houses, more than 27,000 apartment buildings and 526 dormitories.

Added to this is the illegal expulsion of Ukrainian citizens abroad, therefore the movement of 19,500 children from the occupied territories to Russia, and more broadly the large-scale internal displacement of the population. In the latter case, the excessive concentration of the population in certain regions leads to serious problems with the availability and quality of basic services, including housing, education and medical services.

To stem this spectacular drop in population, the Ministry of Social Policy has published a written strategy. It aims first to "create the conditions to increase the birth rate", by establishing "an environment favorable to families with children", by "increasing the economic autonomy of families" and by "creating conditions favorable to the accumulation of parenthood and professional employment. To “reduce the level of premature mortality”, Ukraine wants in particular to develop “behavioral skills of self-preservation”, improve “the general health of the population” and “increase the availability and quality of medical care ".

The country also wants to promote “the return to Ukraine of Ukrainians living abroad”, by promising them concrete support and creating “incentives” to return. To complete, Ukraine wants to “attract foreign migrants to meet the needs of the labor market”. The Ukrainian government's strategy also outlines its strategy to reintegrate displaced people into local territorial communities and adapt society to demographic aging.

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