This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Armenians are Helping to Keep Russia From Depopulating Too Fast

Thanks to Duane Miller for pointing me to a CNN story on the village of Lichk in Armenia (see map below), which is run mainly by women for most of the year:
In the Armenian village of Lichk, you will find many hard-working women, but you will not find many men. All these women's husbands are thousands of miles away.

Because of the poor economic situation of this village, 90% of its working-age men have left for better-paying construction jobs in Russia.

So for eight or nine months a year, women run the village.
Armenia is a small country (about 3 million people--fewer than live here in San Diego County, California), that lies directly to the east of Turkey but has for centuries retained its Christian heritage despite being conquered and badly abused by the Ottomans and then becoming part of the Soviet Union. Indeed, in the years after WWII Armenian women were having more than three children each and the population of Armenia peaked at about 3.5 million just as the Soviet Union fell apart. Since then, fertility has fallen below replacement level, the population has declined in size, and the struggling economy has encouraged migration to Russia for jobs. Remittances from migrant laborers are an important part of the economy, as they are to many of the former republics of the Soviet Union. In Armenia, remittances from the migrants account for 21% of GDP, according to World Bank Data. This is very high by world standards, but lower than other former Soviet republics such as Kyrgz Republic (32%), Moldova (25%), and Tajikistan (48%). This is a classic win-win (or lose-lose, depending upon your political predilections) in that Armenia could not survive economically without the ability to send laborers to work in Russia, and Russia would be much worse off economically if it could not draw on the populations of its former republics to keep it from depopulating at a fast pace. Keep in mind, as well, that since about 500,000 persons of Armenian origin live in the U.S. (with the largest concentration in Los Angeles), some of those remittances may be from the U.S., not just Russia.

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