Before the war in Ukraine turned full-scale in 2022, the country was already experiencing a demographic crisis.

War casualties, alongside millions of displaced Ukrainians who are now seeking refuge domestically and abroad, have painted a pessimistic outlook for Ukraine’s future demographic.

Here are the demographic trends in Ukraine over the decades, where an outflow of people and an aging population caused by the war could have an adverse effect on Ukraine’s future.

Pre-war Ukrainian population

Ukraine’s population stood at 41 million in 2021 prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

But for many Ukrainians, the war started in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and fueled a war in the country’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions. That year, the population stood at 45 million.

Between 2014 and 2021, the population already registered a decrease of four million – this was in part due to the difficulty in accounting for the population in occupied areas, as well as an outflow of labor migrants as Kyiv built closer ties with the EU.

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Russian sources claimed in 2015 that 2.6 million Ukrainians were located in Russia following the Euromaidan revolution and subsequent Russian territorial aggression, with some presumably seeking permanent residence in Russia.

But the changing political climate has prompted Ukrainians to look westward instead for greener pastures, where Polish research in 2017 noted a more than threefold increase of migrants from Ukraine since 2013.

So, the steady decline of the Ukrainian population has been going on for decades.

Independent Ukraine (1991)

Ukraine’s population stood at 52 million upon its independence in 1991.

As part of the former Soviet Union, not everyone in Ukraine was ethnically Ukrainian, with many coming from other Soviet republics such as neighboring Russia or Belarus – or even as far as Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan, some of whom made Ukraine their home with their children now defending Ukraine.

Ukraine experienced slight population growth following its independence. However, the numbers soon declined as locals went abroad – often to Russia and Poland – in the 1990s for better economic opportunities following the economic turmoil that sent a ripple across the post-Soviet landscape.

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By 2001, an official census – the only of its kind conducted in independent Ukraine – placed the country’s population at 48.4 million.

The effects of Russia's invasion

The full-scale Russian invasion of February 2022 has displaced millions of Ukrainians internally and prompted millions more to flee Ukraine.

As of December 2023, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) registered 5.9 million Ukrainian refugees in Europe, plus another 403,600 outside the continent.

Many have applied for asylum and various forms of temporary protection in EU countries, with Poland, the Czech Republic, and Germany among the most popular destinations.

While it is likely that some Ukrainians who have left Ukraine would eventually make it back home after the war, some are determined to stay abroad, which could contribute to a workforce shortage for post-war recovery.

A research paper predicted that if only 10 percent of refugees return to Ukraine, it would have a profound effect on Ukraine’s future workforce: “The population would decline by 24-33 percent by 2040 depending on the final number of refugees by the end of the war. Even more striking is the decline in the size of the working age population (by 27-36 percent) and especially the number of children (by 46-56 percent) by 2040,” the paper assessed.

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Inside Ukraine, it is estimated that thousands have died from the war since the full-scale invasion.

As per an earlier Kyiv Post report, estimations from various sources placed the Ukrainian military deaths between 30,000 and 70,000 at the least.

In November 2023, the UN estimated at least 10,000 Ukrainian civilians had died in the war but said the number could be much higher.

“At least 10,000 civilians, including more than 560 children, have been killed, and over 18,500 have been injured since Russia launched [its] full-scale armed attack against Ukraine on February 24, 2022,” read a UN press release.

Population decline aside, there’s also the low birth rate that paints a grim picture of Ukraine’s future demographic situation.

Ukraine has experienced a low birth rate for years, where data has shown a consistent two percent decrease over the last few years. This would mean a likelihood of an aging population, which could complicate post-war recovery.

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As things stand, it is difficult to predict what the demographic situation would look like for Ukraine, but current data have shown worrying signs and indicate a number of challenges that Ukraine needs to tackle in the future.

Before the war in Ukraine turned full-scale in 2022, the country was already experiencing a demographic crisis.

War casualties, alongside millions of displaced Ukrainians who are now seeking refuge domestically and abroad, have painted a pessimistic outlook for Ukraine’s future demographic.

Here are the demographic trends in Ukraine over the decades, where an outflow of people and an aging population caused by the war could have an adverse effect on Ukraine’s future.

 

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Comments (2)

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Kunal
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It's sad that so many lives are lost and Ukraine has been more or less decimated. I always wonder for what? It's just a border in the end, agree to whatever Russians want to see, and live happily. Better than dying and getting everything destroyed. Have some common sense.

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Surrender
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500k dead to please NATO. Nuland thinks it's all worth it.

john
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@Surrender, ..surprise, surprise, surprise. A new moniker for a russian troll after their old one was verbally beaten to a pulp by the other Ukraine supporting forum members.

At any rate troll, you have your number above mixed up. Is actually only ~370k russian soldiers killed in Ukraine so far. However what with the Ukrainian military's kill ratio over the russians invaders now approaching those of the Finnish folks during the Winter war (10 dead russians for every 1 brave Finlander), the UK Defence department is now forecasting at least 500K dead russian soldiers by year end. That should save Russian moms a lot of rubles when it comes to shopping for their kids in the future.

Anything putin has provided his trolls in the way of approved speaking points has already widely been debunked, but you are welcome to hang out on the forums none the less to use up his troll money. That along with providing Ukraine with lots of weapons to decimate your army, is part of Ukraine's allies hybrid plan to bankrupt russia so it cannot start any more wars.

Thanks for playing...

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