High Birth Rate May Become Issue for Kazakhstan

cover Photo: Elements.envato.com

The population of Kazakhstan remains one of the "youngest". The nation's high birth rate causes continued population growth. Rapid population growth without creating jobs and providing quality education poses a great economic risk. Orda has looked into the matter.

According to The Times of Central Asia, Kazakhstan is now a rare example of a demographic anomaly. Regarding urbanization, GDP per capita, and standard of living, Kazakhstan should have already completed the first demographic transition. I.e., a decrease in birth rate and mortality thanks to improved quality of medicine and food security.

The first demographic transition has been completed almost all over the world. According to Russian expert Alexei Raksha, there are only two states where this has not happened - Israel and Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan's birth rate differs from Israel's, however. Many children are born in Kazakhstan's south, while the north is aging. Central Asian peoples often start large families, whereas Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, and Germans living in Kazakhstan rarely have more than two children.

If Kazakhs, Uzbeks, and Uighurs have a birth rate of 2.9 to 4.2 children per woman, then European ethnicities have an average of 1.3-1.5 children (the average European level). It is obvious that there is a deep difference in cultural attitudes, both in the degree of social conservatism and in the level of religiosity,
 concludes Alexey Raksha.

According to the Lancet medical journal, Kazakhstan has surpassed all its neighbors in Central Asia and all the states of the Northern Hemisphere over the past 70 years in terms of birth rate. The birth rate in the country decreased slightly in 2023, yet remains very high, particularly in the Mangystau and Turkestan regions along with Shymkent.

Alexey Raksha believes the 1930s famine and Soviet migration policies are why the Kazakh authorities have promoted a high birth rate policy. However, what future can the country provide for children born in Kazakhstan today?

Photo: Elements.envato.com

Political scientists and sociologists warn that high birth rates should not be considered an absolute boon for the country. When the population grows faster than the economy, it is fraught with social conflicts, rising poverty, and unemployment.

In the southern regions, the excess population is moved into megacities, where opportunities for socialization and employment have long been exhausted. It should be recalled that this concerns the population of not even "labor-surplus" regions, but frankly poor, poorly educated, and unemployed. You can talk as much as you like about the state's obligation to develop the social sphere and create jobs — the matter is that population growth is systematically ahead of both,said political scientist Daniyar Ashimbayev.

Resettlement programs in the northern regions with low levels of employable workers are inefficient. The authorities have acknowledged the shortcomings. The finances allocated for houses for relocatees have been embezzled. The program thereby exists only on paper.

In addition, Kazakhstan continues to accept ethnic relocatees mainly from the same poor and overpopulated regions of Central Asia. In fact, the only scenario to avoid further "Palaestinization" Kazakhstan's goal is to regulate population growth, Daniyar Ashimbayev is sure.

The Times of Central Asia points out that the Kazakh authorities are aware of the rising birth rate's negative impact on social infrastructure. At the same time, they have yet to abandon their plans to increase the population. They also continue to issue benefits to large families, affecting the budget and encouraging irresponsibility. 

Photo: Elements.envato.com

As Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country, the state seemingly believes the population size should be proportionate. However, suitability for comfortable living, agriculture, infrastructure development, implementation of investment projects, and the foundation of new cities is overlooked.

The World Bank has previously warned about the risk posed by uncontrolled birth rate growth in Kazakhstan. In its report, The World Bank has indicated that by 2030 the number of young people in Kazakhstan will almost double. An increased burden on the education sector and an influx of an unneeded workforce are inherent in such situations. According to experts, by the end of the 2020s, the number of unemployed Kazakhstanis will be in the millions.

Many young, poorly educated, unemployed, and impoverished people only compound social tension.

Original Author: Nikita Drobny

DISCLAIMER: This is a translated piece. The text has been modified, the content is the same. Please refer to the original piece in Russian for accuracy. 

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