Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Population Growth of Six Muslim Republics Far Exceeds Population Decline of Rest of Post-Soviet Space

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 17 -- Since the last USSR census in 1989, population increases in the six Muslim post-Soviet states have more than compensated for the total decline of the other nine. As a result, the share of the populations of these six has increased from 20 percent of the total to 28 percent, Yevgeny Chernyshov of the Nakanune news agency says.

            Citing research published in Demoscope Weekly, he stresses that “the majority of demographic processes taking place in all these republics are qualitatively similar but very strongly diverging quantitively.” Among these most prominently is the fertility rate (

            That rate has fallen everywhere, but “in all the countries of Central Asia it is higher than the level needed for reproducing the population while in all the others it is lower than that level. At present, women in Tajikistan have 3.8 children per lifetime; in Kyrgyzstan, 3.3; in Turkmenistan, 3.2; in Kazakhstan, 3.0; and in Uzbekistan, 2.5.

            Since 1989, the population of Turkmenistan has increased 80 percent; that of Uzbeksitan and Turkmenistan, 70 percent; of Kyrgyzstan, 50 percent; and in Azerbaijan, 40 percent. (In Kazakhstan, that follows a 12 percent decline as the result of outmigration during the 1990s.) The others declined with the greatest declines in Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

            This pattern is striking because prior to the disintegration of the USSR, “a decline in population was not observed in a single one of the union republics, although in all republics of the European part of the USSR, birthrates already were below replacement levels, Chernyshov says.

            What this means is that if the Soviet Union had not disintegrated, its total population would be 298 million, up from 286 million in 1989, with that increase coming exclusively from the growth of the six Muslim republics. In all of these countries, life expectancy has increased, with Estonia the highest at 78 years and Turkmenistan the lowest with 68.

            The greatest variation is in median age. In Lithuania and Latvia, it is 43, with Lithuania’s having increased by 11 years since 1991. In the Muslim republics with their rapid population growth, it is much lower – 22 in Tajikistan, 26 in Kyrgyzstan, 27 in Turkmenistan, 28 in Uzbekistan, 30 in Kazakhstan and 32 in Azerbaijan.

            And that in turn affects the percentage of the population consisting of children under age 15. In Tajikistan, 37 percent of the population is younger than that; in Kyrgyzstan, 33 percent; in Turkmenistan, 31 percent; and in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, 29 percent. In Russia, the share of children in the population, in contrast, is only 18 percent.

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