Staunton, Oct. 31 – Kazakhstan’s incredibly rapid population growth and increasing urbanization, things most Kazakhs are proud of, carry with them the risk that their country is on the same demographic path that triggered the protests and revolutions in what is known as the Arab Spring, Adil Urmanov says.
The combination of rapid population growth and rapid urbanization has the effect, the Kazakh commentator says, of creating a critical mass of young people in Kazakhstan’s cities just as it did across the Arab world a decade or more ago (caravan.kz/news/naselenie-kazakhstana-rastet-kakimi-problemami-ehto-chrevato-965090).
Urmanov says the Kazakh authorities must face up to this danger and do what they can to hold people in rural areas or at least direct them toward places where they will have no difficulty finding jobs. If Astana fails to do that, the threats to social and political stability will only continue to grow.
He points to two other demographic challenges as well: the hollowing out of the north because of the departure of ethnic Russians and Astana’s inability to get Kazakhs to move there to replace them, and the increasingly Kazakh nature of the population in the south, which is likely to feed nationalism there.