Combating Low Life Expectancy and Low Fertility in Tumultuous Political Times: A Comparison of the Ukraine, Russia and Belarus
Demographic trends in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine have diverged in several notorious ways from other European countries, even from those in postcommunist East Central Europe. These include fertility differentials across regions and ethnic groups, a substantial gender gap in the mortality rate, widely varying life expectancy, and increasing emigration fuelled by economic recessions, regional conflicts and repressive laws. In this chapter, we combine two disciplinary perspectives—demography and political science—to establish bi-directional causal links between population changes and politics in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Analysing the three demographic trends of fertility, ageing and mortality, and migration, the chapter aims to show that the population dynamics of each country have considerable political implications on both domestic and regional levels.
To that end, this chapter refers to both directions of their causal links. Applying the basic reasoning, however, that a politics cannot exist without a population, the chapter places considerable focus on the first direction (demography to politics), which is also an understudied causal link that this chapter aims help remedy. In the following, we introduce some of these trends and their political implications, to show the increased political entanglement between the countries since 1990. With this background, the rest of this chapter discusses the impacts of population change on
the demands placed on governments and on the distribution of political power within states. Following this, in the conclusion, we discuss the disciplinary concepts—namely demography and politics—that link demographic variables to the political structure of a society. Given this discussion, we conclude that, due to the failed economic development
and an absence of deliberative policymaking leading to poor governance, the current demographic trends can estabilize these countries.