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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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Armenia is Depopulating, But Not Disappearing

When I was growing up, the one comment I could count on from my mother if it looked as though I wasn't going to finish dinner was: Think of the poor starving Armenians! I don't know how much she knew about Armenia, but I have spent my life with the feeling of tragedy whenever that country is mentioned. I suspect that it has not been an easy history to have been next door to the Persian Empire, and then the Ottoman Empire, and then to be swallowed up by the Soviet Union. These things came to mind when Abu Daoud sent me a link to a story about Armenian demographics. Now, to be sure, the link is from an English-language website that promotes Azerbaijan--Armenia's not-always-so-friendly next door neighbor, but the perspective is a sympathetic one. 
The demographic situation in Armenia faces unpleasant tendencies such as a low birth rate and a high number of divorces.
Fertility rate (births per woman) in the country is 1.6, far from the normal 2-2.1. Therefore, Armenia faces the problem of the self-reproduction of the nation.
The alarming tendencies were voiced by Head of the Department of Demography and Population Census of the National Statistics Service Karine Kuyumdjyan on May 14.
Actually, the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey calculated a TFR of 1.7, exactly the same as it had been back in 2000, but in the meantime, the under-five mortality in the country was cut in half during that decade, helping to spur a slight increase in population growth at the youngest ages. Nonetheless, the country is declining in population size, largely because of out-migration (which the article mistakenly translates as "immigration"). The UN Population Division estimates that the population of Armenia more than doubled from 1.4 million in 1950 to 3.5 in 1990, but since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenians have been moving elsewhere. To be sure, the American Community Survey shows that there are nearly 500,000 people living in the US who claim Armenian ancestry. Nonetheless, UN demographers still expect the current population of 3 million to drop only to 2.6 million by 2050. So, it seems way too early to talk of disappearance, no matter how "disquieting" the demographics may seem.

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