By Paul Goble
Demographers and commentators around the world predicted that the coronavirus pandemic would lead to an uptick in births because couples would be spending more time together at home. In most cases, that has not happened; but in Kazakhstan, it has. That country in fact experienced as a result an unprecedented baby boom.
Kazakh demographer Ayaulym Sagynbayeva says that the years of the pandemic were difficult for Kazakhstan because immigration fell and outmigration rose. But the country’s growth rate remained exactly where is was because in 2020 and 2021, it experienced a baby boom larger than ever before (qmonitor.kz/society/4243).
In 2021 as compared to 2010, she continues, “the size of the population rose by 2.9 million people. Natural growth was three million, and outmigration exceeded 150,000.” What this means, Sagynbayeva continues, is that Kazakhstan’s demographic future must depend not on migration but on natural growth.
But that overall picture, she says, obscures the fact that outmigration is hitting the north hard and leading to depopulation, while natural increases are happening almost exclusively in the urban, Kazakh south, increases that in some cases are being exacerbated by migration from abroad or from the northern part of the country.