The Demographic Challenges to Ukraine’s Economic Reconstruction


Maryna Tverdostup

wiiw Policy Note/Policy Report No. 71, July 2023
44 pages including 3 Tables, 15 Figures

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Even before the war started, Ukrainian demographic prospects were almost uniquely negative, even in the context of CESEE. Ukrainian population declined steadily over last decade and the war has significantly worsened Ukraine’s already negative demographic outlook, to the extent that a shortage of labour, particularly in certain parts of the country, is highly likely to be one of the main challenges of post-war reconstruction. Our findings show that, regardless of our assumptions regarding the duration of the war and further military escalation, Ukraine’s population will not return to its pre-war level even in 2040, and the decline will be most pronounced in the working-age population. Although the population will rise somewhat in the years following the war, as soon as return migration flows run low, the population dynamic will turn negative again. Simulated population size ranges between 34.6m and 35m in 2040, which is around 20% below the 2021 level, with an improved fertility rate and declining mortality having very limited capacity to offset the rapid population decline. Our results suggest that over 20% of refugees will not return after the war, with many of those being working-age Ukrainians and their children, resulting in a long-lasting negative impact on Ukraine’s population and reconstruction prospects.


Keywords: Ukraine, demographic trends, outward and return migration, post-war reconstruction

JEL classification: J11, J13, O15

Countries covered: Ukraine

Research Areas: Labour, Migration and Income Distribution, Regional Development