The birth rate of Ukraine is expected to drop to catastrophic levels in 2023 and lead to the country’s population dropping to 35 million in the coming years. This is a demographic crisis that Ukraine will find extremely difficult to escape from, even if the war was to end tomorrow.
“Next year will see a catastrophic drop in the birth rate, and there is a risk that by 2030 the population of Ukraine will drop to 35 million,” said Professor Ella Libanova, Academician-Secretary at The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and Director of M.V. Ptukha (Institute for Demography and Social Studies).
She added that the main factor is the war as it contributes to a high mortality rate, stress, overload, poor nutrition, and a lack of medical care, all of which has an effect on reproduction and birth rates.
The expert noted that a Ukrainian woman would need to give birth to 2.13 – 2.15 children in her lifetime to maintain Ukraine’s current population of approximately 43.1 million. According to her, in 2021, the average birth rate in Ukraine was 1.1, and in 2022 it will be “even less”.
Libanova said that many of the people that have left Ukraine are “young women of active reproductive and working age, which means that they are not working in Ukraine today and not giving birth to children here.”
“It is clear that the purely quantitative effect is negative. But given the catastrophic decline of the economy due to the war, most likely these women would not have found work in Ukraine, and their presence would have increased pressure on the labor market,” the professor explained.
According to M.V. Ptukha, the population of Ukraine has decreased every year since 1994. The current population is estimated at 43.1 million, but it is recalled that in the 2001 All-Ukrainian Census, nearly 48 million people lived in Ukraine.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as of August 9, found that more than 10.5 million people fled Ukraine to go into neighbouring countries. Since then, more than 4.4 million people have returned to their homes.
Although many people have returned to their homes, Libanova stressed that Ukrainian women still abroad will be less incentivised to return “because each new month of their stay […] deepens their adaptation – their knowledge of the language improves, their children go to schools and universities, and mothers take on work.”
At the same time, according Oleg Soskin, a former adviser to the President of Ukraine, Kiev is becoming a ghost city due to the massive influx of people leaving.
“Rent in Kiev is falling and there is no longer demand. This means that migrants in Kiev are starting to leave, and there are 400,000 of them. Kiev is slowly becoming a ghost city thanks to Klitschko and all the people like Zelensky, Yermak and Shmyhal,” he said on his YouTube channel.
Soskin urged Ukrainians to leave towns and villages where production has stopped working and where there is no water, electricity, and heating systems.
“Manufacturing is going down, the economy is going down, banks are almost unable to hold out. Therefore, devaluation, inflation. Don’t linger in ghost towns,” he advised.
Following the Kiev regime’s terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge, Russia began launching missile attacks against Ukrainian infrastructure. The targets of the retaliatory strikes were energy facilities, defence industry, military command, and communications. The knock-on effects of such strikes mean electricity cuts and other inconveniences to citizens.
Soskin also highlighted that Ukrainians are being taken off city streets and forced to the front lines, which points out that Zelensky is becoming an “undisguised dictator in the eyes of the people.”
“Zelensky says what is democracy, what is freedom, and that we do not have a dictatorship, but in fact we are a dictatorship,” he said, before revealing that he receives videos of Ukrainians being forced off the streets of Dnieper, Chernivtsi, Krivoy Rog and other cities so that they can fight on the front lines.
Along with Kiev becoming a “ghost city”, people being forced off the streets to fight on the front lines, and Ukrainian women in Europe unlikely to return to their country, Ukraine faces a significant demographic crisis that will only worsen with its deepening economic crisis.
According to the Washington Post, at a closed-door meeting at the National Bank of Ukraine in December, central bank officials warned that if Russia’s attacks intensified, “people could flee Ukraine in droves, taking their money with them and crash the national currency as they seek to exchange their Ukrainian hryvnia for euros or dollars.”
“The Ukrainian government could be left without international reserves to pay for critical imports and unable to meet its foreign debt obligations — a doomsday scenario known as a balance-of-payments crisis,” the report added.
With such a dire economic situation, it is only inevitable that Ukrainian couples will have less children, and much later in life, even if wartime factors are suddenly excluded. This is a crisis that Ukraine cannot avoid now, even if the war is to end tomorrow.