Expert: Ukraine's population continues to age
In the second half of the twentieth century, patterns of the demographic development of the European countries have changed; these processes have affected Ukraine. Fertility decline becomes more and more visible; the population is simply unable to reproduce on the needed level.
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The child mortality and mortality from infectious diseases have decreased. A significant increase of the labor migration becomes obvious.
Low fertility in the developed countries is associated with low mortality and increased life expectancy; migration provides an upsurge in the total population and at least partially reimburses changing of the age structure. In Ukraine, the situation is completely different. The country has not managed to increase the life expectancy, and labor migration flushes the country's active population, because most of them are trying to stay in the foreign countries (mainly Western). A net migration is positive, but still it is insufficient to compensate the excess of deaths over births. The situation with Crimea and Donbas does not add optimism.
On this basis, Ukraine’s demographic perspective is not that happy; it might face further depopulation. The population becomes older, and it is concentrated mainly in the large cities, which is typical for the poor countries. First, people move to the capital that has a developed labor market. In 2030, the total population of Ukraine might amount to 42.8 million people, or even 40.4 million without Crimea.
In addition, the quantitative parameters might not be that crucial; health, education, creativity, ability to get the new knowledge and solve the new problems, mobility, responsibility, and tolerance would be more important.
If Ukraine changes the everyday life of population (reducing dangerous and unhealthy work conditions, improving environmental quality, and medical accessibility), the mortality (especially among the men of the working age) will decrease. This means that more people could be able to reach their old age.
Ukraine’s Ptoukha Institute for Demography and Social Studies predicts that by 2030, 13% of the residents would pass over the 70-year milestone. Now the process of demographic aging is treated negatively, given the problems of pension and welfare systems. But this is an objective process of civilizational development.
Further globalization, intensification of the relationships between the countries, numerous industrial, scientific, agricultural, and art centers will promote the importance and transnational structures. People would change not only the city of their residence, but also the country of residence. The ethnic and even racial mixing is just unavoidable. Many Ukrainians, especially those with high education, with great creative potential, will find a job in other countries. The faster our economy grows, the more attractive Ukraine will be for the migrants. Many of them would become more adapted to the life in our country, but some of them would create the difficulties for local communities and the country as a whole. Unfortunately, this is unescapable; therefore, it is high time to make the right policy decisions in advance.
Commonly, migration processes play a crucial role in the distribution of the population. If the difference in the living conditions of urban and rural residents remains unchanged, the population will concentrate in the large cities, especially in Kyiv, with its easier access to the benefits of the modern life.
World experience shows that rapid development of cities does not bring happiness to its residents. Therefore, it is necessary to change the situation right now. First, we should resolve our problems with the roads. Incidentally, it should simplify the problem of employment. This means that in the near future, the villagers would have access to qualitative education and health care.
The example of Europe and North America shows that life in the villages and small towns is convenient. All the parties might benefit from it: the population and territory (deprived of decline), and major cities, and the country in general.
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