Monday, August 5, 2019

Interethnic Marriages in Kazakhstan on the Decline, Sparking Concerns about Future of Ethnic Russians There

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 2 – One measure of social distance among different ethno-national communities is the propensity of their members to intermarry.  In Soviet times, communist officials pointed to an increase in the number of ethnically “mixed” marriages as a measure of the success of Moscow’s nationality policy.

            Since 1991, the share of inter-ethnic marriages has declined in many places after rising in the previous decades. Data from Kazakhstan show this clearly. In 1959, 14.4 percent of all marriages were between members of different nations and by 1989, 23.9 percent of them were (

            But in the post-Soviet period, the share of such marriages has declined, to 21.4 percent in 1999, 18.8 percent in 2005, and 15.5 percent during the period 2013-2017. Historian Nurtayev Mustafayev says this trend is likely to continue. Kazakhs “do not want to marry representatives of other nationalities,” and representatives of others “aren’t seeking to marry Kazakhs.”

            According to him, “the contraction in the number of inter-ethnic marriages is a very clear indicator of growing ethnic (inter-ethnic) distance. This means that in [Kazakhstan] alienation between people of different nationalities is growing. This trend toward the reduction of ethnic multiplicity will continue.”

            Despite that, Nurtayev says, “in the foreseeable future, until the middle of the 21st century (and no one can knowns what will happen later) Kazakhstan will remain poly-ethnic.” That almost certainly true, but it has not stilled questions in the Kazakh media like “Do the Russians have a Future in Kazakhstan?” (

            At least some have doubts. 

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