Ukraine's birth rate is at risk of becoming the lowest in the world due to the war: what are the forecasts?
Even before the full-scale invasion began, Ukraine's birth rate was the lowest in Europe, and now the country is at risk of breaking the world record. Find out what the birth rate in Ukraine is now and what experts are predicting
The issue of childbirth in Ukraine has hit the headlines of international media, as even before the full-scale invasion, its level was the lowest in Europe, and today Ukraine risks becoming the country with the lowest childbirth rate in the world.
Thus, according to The Wall Street Journal, in the first 6 months of 2023, 28% fewer children were born in Ukraine than in the same period of pre-war 2021. This sharp drop in fertility accelerates decades of population decline and deepens the demographic crisis.
Why has the birth rate in Ukraine fallen to a critical level?
It is important to note that the downward trend in the birth rate in Ukraine began after independence. At that time, Ukrainians were forced to look for work abroad due to economic instability, and therefore, over time, one child in a family became the norm.
The first sharp decline in the birth rate was recorded in 2014, when russia invaded eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The publication notes that the birth rate dropped by 12%.
2022 was the second critical point, as millions of women were forced to go abroad with their children, while their husbands remained in Ukraine. That is, a huge number of families were physically separated by different countries. And those families that remained in Ukraine probably decided to postpone having children until more secure and stable times.
It is also important that a significant part of Ukraine's territories is currently under occupation, which means that demographers simply cannot calculate birth data in these regions of the country. In addition, a large number of Ukrainian women have given birth abroad, which means that data on the number of newborns outside of Ukraine also creates a certain error in the calculations.
It is worth noting that the Ukrainian authorities are already actively thinking about how to motivate Ukrainians to return from abroad, as mass migration has become one of the strongest blows to the country's economy. We wrote more about how the authorities intend to bring refugees home here.
The WSJ notes that about 250 babies a month are born in Kyiv's largest maternity hospital this year. For comparison, in pre-war times, about 350-400 children were born. In addition, it is worth considering the fact that the real numbers are even lower now, as there are a large number of internally displaced persons in the capital, and therefore, if not for the influx of IDPs, the statistics would be even lower.
Fertility prospects in Ukraine: what do experts predict and what do they fear?
Currently, scientists cannot make clear predictions, but if the trend does not change, Ukraine risks becoming the country with the lowest birth rate in the world.
And the main question now is how people will behave after the end of hostilities, when men are allowed to travel abroad. According to disappointing demographic forecasts, Ukraine's population is at risk of shrinking to unprecedented levels in the next 20 years and falling below 30 million people.
However, there is another scenario in which the birth rate, on the contrary, could rise sharply after the war ends. After all, there is such a thing as a compensatory effect, when after serious economic, social or epidemiological crises there is a sharp jump in the birth rate.
There may be hundreds of forecasts of the birth rate, and none of them may coincide with reality, because no one knows how, when, and under what conditions the war will end, and it is too early to draw conclusions. However, the disappointing trend is already forcing experts around the world to talk about the threats that Ukraine may face after the war.
We remind you! The war unleashed by russia on the territory of Ukraine has shaken people around the world, because the terror that the occupier is wreaking on Ukrainian soil cannot leave anyone indifferent. Read how the world's attitude to the war in Ukraine has changed and who world leaders think will win this confrontation in our previous article.
Photo: Getty Images
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