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Institutet för Framtidsstudier - Institute for Futures Studies Arbetsrapport, Institutet för Framtidsstudier - Institute for Futures Studies

No 2005:16:
Population Geography Perspectives on the Central Asian Republics

Michael Gentile

Abstract: Since the fall of the iron curtain, research on population issues in Central Asia, with the exception of migration, has lost ground in the academia, and little is known about the geographical dimensions of population issues in this region beyond the findings of the handful of studies carried out under the auspices of international organisations. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to outline the main traits of the population geography of the Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The report investigates the geographical characteristics of the countries’ vital statistics, as well as of other significant demographic indicators, such as the age structure, dependency ratio and infant mortality. Additionally, the report attempts to establish whether particular regional and local demographies show inter-linkages with the specific socio-economic and/or cultural settings that they are embedded in. The report uses the systematic collection and analysis of data from statistical sources as its main method. Most of the statistical materials derive from the national statistical authorities of the USSR and its successor states, although additional and complementary data was collected from the US Bureau of Census’ international database web resource. The use of such data involves substantial methodological and interpretative difficulties, which this report discusses in detail.

Applying a three-scale geographical approach on the study of the Central Asian Republics’ population development, this report demonstrates that there are significant variations in the territoriality of these countries’ demographies. The variations are indeed striking, and suggest that the five states will face distinctly spatially differentiated challenges with regard to the volume and type of healthcare that will be required, the nature of the demand for housing, social and cultural services, and the structure of the labour market, just to name a few examples. These challenges should be taken into greater consideration by policy-makers and other stakeholders, along with matters of more immediate concern, such as the poor health infrastructure and sanitary situation, the high rate of poverty, environmental degradation, and the economic and political instability in the southern regions, most recently epitomized by the Ferghana valley-based “tulip” revolution in Kyrgyzstan and the violent riots in the Uzbek city of Andijan.

Keywords: Population Geography Perspectives; Central Asian Republics; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: J10; (follow links to similar papers)

44 pages, December 12, 2005

ISSN 1652-120X ISBN 91-89655-74-5

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