Shocking figure: life expectancy for Ukrainian men plummets

Almost two years after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, a staggering figure has come to light: life expectancy for Ukrainian men has fallen by 10 years.

WORLD FEBRUARY 3. 2024 17:26

Before the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, experts estimated life expectancy for Ukrainian men at around 66-67 years, but this has now fallen to 57-58 years, the Austrian Exxpress reported.

With this steep drop,

Ukraine is now among the countries with the lowest life expectancy in the world, closely following nations such as Chad (54), Nigeria (54), Lesotho (55) and the Central African Republic (55).

Adding to the worrying demographic trends, Ukraine has the lowest birth rate in the world. Women of childbearing age have 0.7 children on average, according to a government study.

Moreover, the ongoing conflict has caused more than six million people to leave the country for Europe, and four million Ukrainians to remain stranded in Russian-occupied territories.

As is known, restrictions apply to men of military age as to leaving the country, contributing to a gender imbalance in the population. The combined effect of these factors depicts a bleak picture of Ukraine’s demographic challenges amid geopolitical turmoil.

Demographic crisis

It has long been clear that Ukraine is facing a demographic crisis, which has been exacerbated by the war.

Ukraine was already a country with high emigration levels when the country exited the communist bloc after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But while other Eastern European countries have managed to turn the situation around through political and economic stability, the situation in Ukraine has worsened, researcher Marina Tvedorstup at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies pointed out in a report published in 2022. At the time, Tvedorstup cited five problems that the war has exacerbated: declining birth rates, falling life expectancy, increased emigration, an ageing population and a ruined labour market.

And war could seal Ukraine’s fate for decades to come. Sandor Seremet, an expert at the Eurasia Centre and a senior researcher at the Hungarian Institute of Foreign Affairs, told the Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet that the consequences of the war on demography should not be examined solely in terms of the ongoing emigration and war losses, because

a significant proportion of the population leaving the country belongs to the most productive cohort, and therefore the most important age group for the reproduction of the population will be absent from Ukraine, even if some of them move back home after the war. It is feared that the birth rate will continue to fall in Ukraine, and that many of the Ukrainian citizens who have left because of the war will not plan to return.

In one of the most detailed and comprehensive studies – carried out under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and funded by the European Research Council – on the possible demographic repercussions of the war, Hill Kulu and colleagues conclude that

taking into account the impact of war casualties and assuming that only 10 per cent of the refugees will return home after the war ends, Ukraine’s population is projected to fall by 24 to 33 per cent, depending on the duration of the war.

Children and the working-age population will be particularly affected. As the authors acknowledge, this projection does not take into account additional problems, such as increased mortality rates among the civilian population due to the long-term effects of the health crisis arising from injuries, infectious diseases and other war trauma.




demography, ukraine, war