Monday, November 2, 2015

Ukrainian Birth Statistics

How much has the Maidan coup and the subsequent war damaged Ukrainian society? The Ukraine's GDP has fallen off a cliff, but that could overstate the extent of the disaster. The Maidan elite is shadier than its predecessors and the amount of lawlessness has gone up under it, so the underground portion of the Ukrainian economy, the kind that's not reflected in most economic statistics, is likely to have grown at the expense of the legal one. 

I think that birth statistics are much more trustworthy than any kind of economic data. I'm sure that almost all births are still recorded in the Ukraine. Their number is sensitive to economic conditions. Births fell precipitously all over the non-Muslim parts of the former USSR in the 1990s. The current economic and political disaster in the Ukraine is similar to that of the 1990s in many ways. So I think that a look at current Ukrainian demographics can shed some light at the severity of the crisis. 

I found official Ukrainian demographic statistics here. They have data up to August of this year. In the table below I compared the number of births in August of 2013, 2014 and 2015 in all the regions of the Ukraine that the junta fully controls. They had data for the two war-torn regions too, but I removed it because it's unlikely to be complete.

Births by Region of the Ukraine

Region Aug 13 Aug 14 Aug 15 2 yr % change
Vinnitsa 1,559 1,414 1,405 -9.9
Volyn 1,412 1,195 1,184 -16.1
Dnepropetrovsk 3,157 3,174 2,792 -11.6
Zhitomir 1,338 1,248 1,138 -14.9
Zakarpatye 1,728 1,591 1,425 -17.5
Zaporozhye 1,677 1,668 1,356 -19.1
Ivano-Frankovsk 1,499 1,427 1,256 -16.2
Kiev (w/o the city) 1,872 1,834 1,714 -8.4
Kirovograd 981 930 781 -20.4
Lvov 2,790 2,630 2,379 -14.7
Nikolayev 1,236 1,209 1,000 -19.1
Odessa 2,723 2,586 2,391 -12.2
Poltava 1,344 1,250 1,177 -12.4
Rovno 1,628 1,501 1,373 -15.7
Sumy 909 914 859 -5.5
Ternopol 1,102 951 895 -18.8
Kharkov 2,412 2,388 2,074 -14.0
Kherson 1,082 1,034 943 -12.8
Khmelnitskiy 1,278 1,228 1,159 -9.3
Cherkasy 1,091 1,064 934 -14.4
Chernovtsy 1,064 1,066 924 -13.2
Chernigov 890 803 809 -9.1
City of Kiev 3,019 2,954 3,017 -0.1

Total: 37,791 36,059 32,985 -12.7

The decline is both broad and serious. 

Most of the children born in August of 2014 must have been conceived at the end of 2013, before the fateful coup. So why would there be fewer of them compared to the number born in August of 2013? Some of the mothers could have moved out of the country or had abortions once the economy tanked. One of the things we're looking at here is emigration. 

Why did births fall the least in Kiev? I'm guessing it's because a lot of the refugees from the war zone settled there. Most of the refugees went to Russia, but some went into the peaceful parts of the Ukraine. It seems plausible that aid to them would be more readily available in the capital. Why did the Sumy region suffer less than most? That I don't know. 


  1. Also worth bearing in mind that the birth rate in Ukraine *should* be falling right about now if TFR remains the same because the big 70s-80s generation, as in Russia, is being replaced with the much smaller 90s-00s generation in terms of women in their childbearing age.

    Although a 13% drop over 2 years is far too big to be attributed to that exclusively, of course. In practice this means the TFR must have declined from ~1.5 under late Yanukovych to about 1.3 this year.

    1. You're right. It's interesting that Western Ukraine, which suffered a smaller demographic decline in the 90s and 00s than the rest of the country, was hit as hard this time around as the other regions.