On Facebook this morning, a friend posted an article about the demographic problems that Georgia faces. The article was about 2 months old, and riddled with holes, but it brought up an interesting discussion on the topic.
I don’t want to get too bogged down in details here, but this is a sample of the numbers we are talking about:
According to the World Fact Book, Georgia’s estimated population sits at ~4.9 million people. ~31% of the population is under the age of 24. The population growth rate is -0.11%. This means that there are 12.93 births and 10.77 deaths for every 1,000 people, and a net migration rate of -3.25 migrant(s)/1,000 population. The estimated fertility rate is 1.77 children per woman.
The numbers paint a grim picture of Georgia’s future. According to the article I initially linked to, the country could lose at least 1.1 million people by 2050. However, the true population of Georgia is hotly debated. One thing that remains unclear is if these numbers include the contested regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (both are currently not under Georgian jurisdiction). In addition, a census has not been taken in Georgia since 2002. One was supposed to be taken this year, but the implementation has so far failed to materialize. The groundwork was laid about a year ago when people were sent out to determine how many people lived at a specific address. A young girl showed up at my door asking for information last November (the neighbors had to translate). Apparently, the census was put on hold due to political dealings earlier this year, but they plan to start up again in November.
Meanwhile, the government is discussing plans to counteract population decline, but if the ideas mentioned are any indication, then they are doomed to failure. One of the proposals includes paying women to have more children. Russia has already tried this, and while it may bring numbers up in the short-term, it is ineffective as a long-term policy. In addition, the suggestion to crack down on illegal abortions (banned after week 12) could potentially be a positive trend if carried out properly. According to UN data, more than 100 abortions are carried out in Georgia every day. But many abortions in Georgia are still gender-targeted abortions, and gender is not determined until after week 12. So this is a long-term project to change society’s attitudes and values.
People need to feel secure both politically and economically to even consider having children. And I am not just not sure that Georgians currently feel that way.