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World Bank report: Georgian population on the decline

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Wednesday, February 27
The population in Georgia could decrease by as much as 800 000 by 2025, according to a report recently released by the World Bank. The report puts Georgia third, after Ukraine and Bulgaria, in terms of projected change in population size in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

A potential population crisis is a hot topic in Georgia, and the World Bank forecast has compounded fears held by some commentators that Georgia is a dying nation.

“To keep the population steady, every ten women should give birth to at least 21 babies. As far as I know, these days every ten women give birth to 17 babies,” demographer Anzor Sakhvadze told the newspaper Rezonansi.

Last year Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II pledged to baptize every newborn third child and supply them with financial aid until their eighteenth birthday, in an effort to encourage greater fecundity.

“We face a difficult demographic situation in Georgia, so one of the key priorities of the Patriarch's Charitable Foundation will be demographic projects,” he said on December 14.

The World Bank report forecasts population decreases in most of the countries studied. Among those forecast to experience population increases are Azerbaijan and Turkey.