Although the world might be overrun with people by 2050 (according to certain prophets, we’re all doomed) one place you might like to consider moving to is Ukraine. When everyone else is living cheek-by-jowl with their neighbours, bewailing the lack of living space, Ukraine may well be looking pretty attractive in 37 years time.  That’s because, like so many other countries in Europe, Ukraine’s population is going to decline between now and 2050.  Currently, the population is around 45.5million people, but the UN has forecast that this will drop to 33 million people by 2050 (a decline of more than a quarter). Demographers in the Ukraine have disputed this figure however, claiming that the decline will be more modest – to 36 million people.

If either the UN or the Ukranian demographers are right then Ukraine is set to witness a massive dislocation in its society. It is incredible to think that this country will suffer the loss of a quarter of its population in less than two generations, during peace time! However, according to Wikipedia, this population loss isn’t a new phenomenon in the Ukraine – the population peaked at over 52 million in the early 1990s and has been contracting since then.  Apparently, this population decline is down to low fertility rates.  In 2001, the total fertility rate was 1.1 births per woman, one of the lowest rates in the world. Although that has climbed to 1.5 now it would need to increase by around 50% to stabilise the population.  Added to this, Ukraine suffers a high mortality rate due to: “environmental pollution, poor diets, widespread smoking, extensive alcoholism, and deteriorating medical care”. 

Whether governmental programmes to induce higher fertility rates (including lump sum payments for children born and on-going payments to help defray the cost of raised them) will work and halt the Ukrainian demographic decline remains to be seen. However, it seems as if we can add the Ukraine to the list of European countries that are going to get a little emptier in the upcoming decades. Whatever happens elsewhere, there isn’t a population explosion happening north of the Black Sea.   

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...