The depopulation of Ukraine

The recent history of the Ukrainian people is a history of survival in the face of attempts to wipe them out.

Millions of Ukrainians died in the Holodomor, the terror-famine imposed by Joseph Stalin in 1932-33.  It was a combination of an attempt to wipe out the kulaks, a class of prosperous, independent peasant farmers in Ukraine and other Soviet republics, and a drive to wipe out the distinctive Ukrainian culture.

Millions more died under Nazi rule during World War Two.  Adolf Hitler’s plan for the Ukrainians was for half or more of them to die of starvation and disease and the rest to be a permanent slave class for future German settlers.

That is why Hitler rejected Stepan Bandera’s proposal to set up a Nazi vassal state in Ukraine.  Hitler didn’t want Ukraine to have even a nominal political existence.

After the war, Ukraine’s population recovered.  Official statistics indicate that the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic’s population, including the provinces annexed by the USSR during the war, was 36.9 million in 1950.  It rose to a peak of 52.2 million in 1993, shortly after Ukraine became independent.

But then it fell to 41.2 million in 2021.  That’s because of a fall in women’s average fertility rates below the replacement rate, which was happening in all European countries.  But it also is due to a rise in the death rate.  A blogger named Noah Carl said this is due to deaths to alcohol abuse and other “deaths of despair” among Ukrainian men.

Since the war broke out, Carl reported more than 8 million Ukrainians have left for other countries – including 3 million to Russia, 5 million to European Union countries, 250,000 to the USA  That’s one-fifth of Ukraine’s pre-war population.  Many of them might not be coming back because they’ve settled in countries with labor shortages where wages are higher than in Ukraine.

Moreover, as Carl pointed out, the refugee population is skewed toward women, children and the elderly.  Ukraine is not allowing military-age men to leave.

Moreover, the refugee population is better-educated and more employable than the Ukrainian average, and more culturally compatible with Europeans than refugees from Africa and the Middle East.

So it’s likely that many refugees will want to stay where they are.  If so, Ukrainian men will have a choice between leaving to join their women, or stay in Ukraine where chances of finding a mate are less.  Either way, that’s a big loss for the Ukrainian nation.

Lyman Stone of the Institute for Family Studies quoted estimates that Ukraine’s population will shrink by about 50 percent in the next generation, and Russia’s will shrink by 25 percent.  That’s not counting the population of the parts of Ukraine likely to be taken over by Russia.

The other question for Ukrainian patriots is when or whether their nation can become truly independent.  Right now their fate is being decided in Washington and Moscow, not in Kiev.  They deserve a better fate than the one that’s probably in store.


Demographics of Ukraine Wikipedia page.

Ukraine’s demographic future by Noah Carl for Noah’s Newsletter.

The Demography of War: Ukraine vs. Russia by Lyman Stone for the Institute of Family Studies.

Is Europe integrating Ukrainian refugees to solve its demographic problems? by Orysia Hrudka for Euromaiden Press.

UN projects Ukraine’s population will never recover from war by bne intelliNews.

War exacerbates Ukraine’s population decline, report shows by JRC News for the EU Science Hub.

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