I just found the image below on Google.

There is a significant drop of Kazakhstan's population. What happened in those years? I did used Google search to find more information but I did not find the answer.

enter image description here


1 Answer 1


The dissolution of the Soviet Union, which led to economic upheaval & hardship as well as a significant amount of emigration. From p. 9 of this 2012 conference paper, found by Googling "Kazakhstan population decline 1990s":

The dissolution of the Soviet Union led to a dramatic decline in the economic output and living standards throughout the post-Soviet world, including Kazakhstan. The deep economic crisis of the early post-Soviet years was accompanied by a no less dramatic drop in fertility and life expectancy at birth, increase of mortality and divorce rates. [Total fertility rate] during 1990s fell well below replacement level, while decline of life expectancy was more than five years. ...

The Independence for the country meant, first of all, breaking down and losing all ties with former Soviet economic partners and secondly, transition from centrally-planned to a market economy. The consequences of such drastic changes and fluctuations for Kazakhstan were experienced as a massive out–migration of non-Kazakh ethnicities represented mostly by well-educated and high-skilled population, especially from the North, East and Central regions. The loss of population amounted -57686 in 1991 and in 1993 this number was already fourfold and reached -219025 but the peak of net emigration fell to 1994 when the country left more than 400 thousand people (Figure 5). Overall number of emigrants during the transition decade got close to 3 million.

As a strange historic side-note, the out-migration of non-Kazakhs included a large portion of the Kazakhstan Germans (!), descendants of ethnic Germans from the Volga region who were deported to/interned in Kazakhstan shortly after Nazi Germany invaded Russia. Nearly a million people of German descent lived in Kazakhstan in 1989; after the fall of the Soviet Union, the great majority of them (about 2/3) left Kazakhstan for either Russia or Germany.

This does raise the question of why other former Soviet Republics did not experience such population declines. This seems to be because the Kazakh SSR experienced much more migration, both forced and free, from other parts of the Soviet Union before the Soviet Union collapsed (bolding mine):

Many Soviet citizens from the western regions of the USSR and a great deal of Soviet industry relocated to the Kazakh SSR during World War II, when Axis armies captured or threatened to capture western Soviet industrial centres. Groups of Crimean Tatars, Germans, and Muslims from the North Caucasus were deported to the Kazakh SSR during the war because it was feared that they would collaborate or had collaborated with the Germans. Many Poles from eastern Poland were deported to the Kazakh SSR, and local people shared their food with the new arrivals.

Many more non-Kazakhs arrived between 1953 and 1965, during the Virgin Lands Campaign of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev (in office 1958–1964). That program saw huge tracts of Kazakh SSR grazing land cultivated for wheat and other cereal grains. More settlement occurred in the late 1960s and 1970s, when the Soviet government paid bonuses to workers participating in a program to relocate Soviet industry closer to Central Asia's coal, gas, and oil deposits. By the 1970s the Kazakh SSR was the only Soviet republic in which the eponymous nationality was a minority, due to immigration and the decimation of the nomadic Kazakh population.

  • Kyrgyzstan also had lots of Germans. Did they not have a similar population decline?
    – Jan
    Nov 4, 2021 at 15:55
  • 1
    @Jan: From the numbers available here, it appears than at the 1989 census Kyrgyzstan was 2.4% German, 21.5% Russian, and 52.3% Kyrgyz. Kazakhstan, meanwhile, was 5.8% German, 37.8% Russian, and 39.8% Kazakh at the same census. ... Nov 4, 2021 at 17:03
  • 1
    So from those numbers, it seems that Kyrgyzstan experienced emigration of non-Kyrgyz peoples after the fall of the Soviet Union, but since non-Kyrgyz people were a smaller portion of the population, the overall population did not decline as much. From that same Wikipedia article, it appears that the population of Kyrgyzstan stagnated in the period from '92–'94 but did not actually decline significantly. Nov 4, 2021 at 17:05
  • as a side note, look up the Aral Sea disaster which was another direct consequence of the Virgin Lands campaign. And the Soviet nuclear and biological testing facilities in Kazakhstan. All of which left a lot of the SSR a desolate wasteland over time, the steppes turned into desert, often dangerously toxic desert.
    – jwenting
    Nov 9, 2021 at 8:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.