Number of people in Ukraine still falling, only bureaucrats on the rise
The population of Ukraine is continuing to fall. According to the State Committee of Statistics at the end of 2009 it stands at less than 46 million. The figure of 45 million 999 thousand is against 46 million 179 thousand people as of 1 November 2008, making a decrease of 180 thousand. There is already talk of the demographic situation being a threat to national security, and some specialists consider that if the trend cannot be stopped, the country will be confronted with the need to call for immigrants.
Head of Social Programmes for the authoritative Razumkov Centre, Ludmila Shanhina notes that the authorities are eager to report that the number of births is increasing, but are less willing to mention other less pleasant findings. While the birth rate has risen, the death rate has not decreased, rather the contrary, and overall the population is on the decline. the overall population continues to decline.
Ms Shanhina stresses that the falling population is most of all linked with an unsatisfactory state of healthcare, and the demographic upsurge of recent years could prove short-lived. She adds that the birth rate has increased because those born during the last baby boom at the beginning of the 1980s have themselves reached childbearing age.
Deputy Head of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence, Serhiy Hrynevetsky, warns that the demographic situation is posing a threat to national security. “Decisive measures are needed, starting with fair and honest medical statistics. However the main priority should be decent nutrition. After all, Ukraine is one of the most backward countries in Europe in terms of consumption of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.
Conflicting views regarding immigration
The Director of the Institute of Demography and Social Research, Ella Libanova believes that the situation can only be changed by stimulating immigration. She points out that in order to deal with depopulation through the efforts of citizens of the country, the average Ukrainian woman would need to bear around three children.
Ms Shanhin, however, considers that way of resolving the demographic problem to be flawed. “There is nothing simpler than to allow migrants from countries where people live even worse to come here and work. And in that way to enable those in power and the 200 families who as it is live pretty well, to live even better.” She stresses the need to improve the standard of living.
Specialists point to a certain paradox in Ukraine’s development. Against the background of a decline in population, the number of civil servants is steadily on the rise. According to the Central Department of the Civil Service, over the last 10 years the number of civil servants in Ukraine has increased by 100 thousand.
According to Serhiy Hrynevetsky, this increase does not lead to better functioning of the State apparatus and to an improvement in conditions. “This is the result of centralization of power and dualism in the executive branch”. He believes the authorities to be largely concentrated on control functions.
Demographers predict that if the current trend is not reversed, by 2050 Ukraine’s population will have fallen to 36 million.