Demography inspires optimism
Birth rate and life expectancy rose last yearBy Yury Chernyakevich
It’s no secret that the population of developed countries grows older every year; it’s a trend seen in the USA, Japan, and Europe. The European birth rate is dropping catastrophically; meanwhile, more migrants from developing countries across Asia and Africa enter each year. Some would say that this fall in the birth rate is a direct result of women’s emancipation and greater independence. Belarus is also following this global trend, having seen a decline in the birth rate since the early 1990s.
As to whether it’s possible to reverse this tendency, some would say it’s unlikely. However, optimists remain positive, noting last year’s rise in the number of babies born (as reported by the National Statistical Committee).
At the NSC’s recent press conference, the demographic situation from the last decade was presented, showing that cities are home to more residents than ever and that downward demographic trends may have been turned around. “Last year, seven thousand more children were born in Belarus than in the previous year. We believe that this trend will continue in the future,” stated Irina Shestakova, the Director General of the Demographic Statistics Department of the National Statistical Committee. In fact, it’s becoming more common for couples to have second, third and, even, fourth children; it’s a trend observed over the past few years.
Pleasingly, the average lifespan of Belarusians is increasing, standing at over 72 years as of last year — rivalling rates in the CIS and elsewhere worldwide. Everything points to the stabilisation of Belarus’ demographic situation, as acknowledged by foreign experts. The fall in infant mortality and higher life expectancy have significantly affected Belarus’ position in the UN’s Human Development Index (from 65th to 50th place, among 187 countries). Maintaining these positive trends is now essential.