While we watch the terrible news unfolding in the Ukraine and hope that things do not descend further into anarchy and violence, it is interesting to note that Ukraine’s longterm problems don’t end with a bad economy, a fragile government, a dangerous neighbour and a potential breakup of its territory (as if that wasn’t enough!) According to the International Business Times, the demographic outlook for Ukraine is extremely bleak:

“The country has a staggering shortage of men, which has partially resulted from their poor health, poverty and short life spans.”

Although it currently has a population of 46 million, Ukraine is facing a future of long, steady population decline.

“EuroMonitor estimates that by 2030, the population of Ukraine will fall to 42.6 million, a 7 percent decline from 2010.

‘Every year, 200,000 more people die than are born,’ said Rumane Verikaite, a EuroMonitor data analysis manager. The United Nations projects that Ukraine’s population will fall even further to 35 million by 2050.”

This decline is due to both Ukraine’s low fertility rate (around 1.4 children per woman – up from a shockingly low 1.08 in 2001 according to Wikipedia!) and its extremely high death rate. According to the CIA World/Factbook, in 2013, the country recorded 15.75 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants. This was the second-highest rate in the world, only behind only South Africa.

The Ukrainian population is declining, but it is also heavily skewed towards women. The country is a very dangerous place to be a man (let us hope it is not about to become even more so…) This skew is not due to deliberate abortion of male boys or cultural preference for girls, but is mainly self-inflicted. 

“The State Statistics Committee of Ukraine estimated that the country has a deficit of almost 3.6 million men – with the average life expectancy for men now 62 years, a dozen years less than the corresponding figure for women. Institute for Demography and Social Studies at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Libanova noted that almost a quarter (22 percent) of Ukrainian men die between the ages of 40 and 60. In the crucial 40-49 age period, men die at a rate more than three times that of women. On the whole, there are only 85 males for every 100 females in Ukraine.”

This imbalance is far more pronounced at the top of the population pyramid – there are only 51 men per 100 women over the age of 65.  So how is this horrendous male cull self-inflicted? Well according to Ukrainian blog, adorableland.com, more than one-half of Ukrainian men smoke regularly. Their self destructive behaviours also include “heavy alcohol consumption, drug addiction and high-risk sexual activities that shorten their life spans”.

The Ukrainian population is currently quite large, but is set to decline quite markedly in the next few years. Its men folk are killing themselves off, leaving growing numbers of women unable to find a husband in their native land.  Ukraine is statistically a dangerous place to live and it has a low birth rate. In fact, when it comes to demographic statistics and outlook, Ukraine starts to look a lot like Russia

Marcus Roberts is a Senior Researcher at the Maxim Institute in Auckland, New Zealand, and was co-editor of the former MercatorNet blog, Demography is Destiny. Marcus has a background in the law, both...