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The inflow of Ukrainian refugees is changing Europe’s demography

The inflow of Ukrainian refugees is changing Europe’s demography

Some 5.3m people — the bulk of them women and children — have fled Ukraine since the war began, the vast majority to countries bordering Ukraine on the west. Poland, which until recently exported more people than it received, has taken in more than half of these. The population of Warsaw, the capital, expanded by 17% in weeks. Hungary, whose population had shrunk from 10.7m in the mid-1980s to 9.8m in 2020, has received more than 500,000 Ukrainians.

Numbers that big can change demographic destinies. For countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and possibly the Baltic states “this crisis is a watershed moment, shifting them quickly to becoming immigration countries rather than outmigration countries,” says Tomas Sobotka of the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital.

If Ukrainian refugees choose to remain in Europe, they will lower the average age of their host countries, provide a needed infusion of relatively skilled labor, tilt the sex ratio towards women and, as a result, give European economies a boost.

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