How Many Citizens will Minsk have in 10 Years? And in 20?

The number of Minsk dwellers will not increase drastically in 10-20 years, but the key thing is that there will never be fewer citizens in the capital city. This is some sort of a statistical forecast that we would like to believe. Our correspondent speaks about the demographic situation with the director of the Minsk-based research institute for social, economic and political issues, Vladimir Bobkov
Experts have been issuing warnings lately that the number of Belarusians is falling and efficient measures are required to help the country out. I guess there are three scenarios, so which one do you support personally?

— The best-case scenario is that we will have 2.3 million citizens in Minsk by 2020, whereas the worst-case scenario is just 1.75 million people. I guess the best option would be to be closer to the mean value of 2.02 million citizens. At present there are 1.76 million citizens in Minsk. We are definitely facing a demographic crisis, but the 15 years with a very high birth rate, I mean 1975-1990, help us a lot right now.

— When are we going to face the consequences of the demographic slump of the late 90s?

— Later, after 2010. Until that time we will be under the influence of the increase in natality. The share of able-bodied population is at the top right now, over 67%. However, this positive tendency may result in employment problems, especially the threat of youth unemployment. The situation may aggravate after 2010: Minsk citizens will be getting older, and the recent demographic crisis will show.

— People say more and more often that Minsk has become an “old” city, which means there seem to be too many elderly people here.

— Since WWII there has been a tendency towards a rise in the number of senior citizens in the capital city. In 1959 the share of pensioners was at 7.2%, in 1989 the figure rose to 12.2%, in 1999 to 15.9%, and on January 1, 2004 it was at 16.9%. The most recent census showed that people aged over 65 account for 10.2% of Minsk citizens, compared with the average of 13% in the country. So Minsk is an old city by UN standards, where the limit stands at 7%.

— So the rumors that the retirement age will be shifted five years, to 60 for women and 65 for men, are well-grounded?

— I cannot say it is necessary. The share of able-bodied citizens will surely increase owing to younger people.

— What about the sex ratio? Does Minsk have more males or females?

— What we have now is 1,152 females per 1,000 males. However, the structure depends on age groups. In the “under 23” category we have 976 females per 1,000 males, the figures are almost equal in the age groups up to 50. In the “50–54” age group the ratio is 1,306 females per 1,000 males. And women prevail in the age group over 60.

— Younger people name education one of their key priorities in life. Are there more females of males among those wishing to have higher education?

— Earlier, men were better educated, but the situation has changed. At present 346 females and 319 males have higher education per 1,000 population.

— Judging by scientific research, one should not expect a bad demographic crisis in the capital city.

— Minsk has witnessed a rise in the birth rate: there were 14,288 newborn babies in 1999, but the figure rose to 16,544 in 2005. Minsk once had 25% of its citizens younger than 16, but now the ratio of citizens under 16 is 16 to 100. The situation is expected to change for the worse in 10 years. The state needs a better policy to support families, as young parents need to be certain that everything will be fine.

by Viktor Mikhailov
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