152 years is necessary for Kazakh nomad camp
According to the world trends of globalization, Kazakhstan has been pursuing its own migration policy aimed at strengthening national security, improving a demographic situation and sustainable social-economic development of the country since its independence. But how effective is this migration policy? Is the state taking sufficient measures to improve the demographic situation? The problem is here.
In general, an increase in external migration, a sharp decline in birth rates, rising mortality, deteriorating a demographic situation and public health are among the factors that negatively affect national security. In addition, a consenescence of the population also affects the security of the country. Unfortunately, a population growth of only 19% in the last 10 years is not directly related to the increase in birth rates, but to the increase in life expectancy as a whole. However, there are regions in Kazakhstan where the population is aging. For instance, in Kazakhstan, there are 26 people over the age of 65 for every 100 children in average, that means the index equals to 25.9, in North Kazakhstan this figure is 55.8, in Kostanay region — 53.2, in East Kazakhstan region — 47.4. In few words, the population in the north and east parts of the country is aging. Moreover, an overall birth rate in the country is gradually declining. This trend, that have been observed for the first time in 1989, is likely to continue. Therefore, it is important to consider additional reserves for the population growth. And there is another topical question: "Where is our reserve?" In our opinion, Kazakh diaspora abroad is the only reserve of Kazakhstan.
Many people departed, only a few arrived
According to some data of experts, 7-8 million Kazakhs live in the near and far abroad. This is a great potential from the demographical aspect. However, if we notice that 1 million 39 thousand 619 ethnic Kazakh families or 303 263 families moved to Kazakhstan from 1991 to 2018, it seems that we are not able to use our demographic reserve. Because, only 38.5 repatriates have returned to our homeland for almost 30 years in average. This is lower than the annual number of emigrants in the last 3 years. For example, 37 thousand people departed from the country in 2017, 42 thousand in 2018, 34,200 people in nine months of 2019. Moreover, ethnic migration has been declined over the past 10 years. And if we take into account that the number of compatriots who came to the country was three times less than the number of emigrants in the last 29 years, the number of emigrants exceeded 3.5 million people, then the country's demographic prospects are undefined.
Russia considers Kazakhstan as a donor
A lack of labor resources in some regions of the world has created a strong competition for human resources. Neighboring Russia is also experiencing a decline in the total population and the outflow of the population from strategically important areas. That is why, Russia pays a special attention to this issue. And Kazakhstan is valued as a donor to address the demographic issues. They are doing their best to support migrants from other countries, including Kazakhstan. For example, in Russia, about 600 thousand rubles are provided for getting a house only among the financial assistance provided to a family of four. There is also an additional 67 thousand rubles for the low-income families. This means that the family that moved to Russia will receive a financial support of at least 4 million tenge. There is another help as well. And in Kazakhstan, the support provided to one family of our relatives, who returned to their homeland, is only about 848 thousand tenge. In other words, this is the amount we have allocated for the provision of housing for one family, consisting of 4 people.
In general, more than 300 thousand people emigrated from Kazakhstan to Russia from 2009 to 2019. However, an established quota for our compatriots to return to the country in 2020 is only 1,378 places in Kazakhstan. And considering that, most of the 1 million people we mentioned in the beginning have returned to their homeland by 2010, we do not have all the points in the migration process.
Сurrent nomad camp will have an economic mode
According to the current opinions of demographers, the migration of Kazakhs living in countries bordering Kazakhstan has reached a point where they do not rely on the spiritual reasons. In other words, the words "My Homeland, my Fatherland" are becoming less and less. Of course, this does not mean that the migration potential is exhausted. In our opinion, the migration of those who are in a hurry to reach their historical homeland has lost its ideological character and, on the contrary, it has gained an economic significance due to the opportunities to improve jobs and living conditions. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the social-economic opportunities as a prerequisite for the return of the Kazakh diaspora to the homeland. So far, Kazakhstan lags behind Russia and China in terms of Gross Domestic Product per capita. Therefore, the level of Kazakhs in these countries is likely to decrease. A desire of Kazakhs from Uzbekistan and Mongolia to immigrate is also due to the fact that the GDP of these countries is lower than ours. These factors require the development of incentive programs to support Kazakhs abroad and repatriation as well.
According to the sociological surveys, conducted by the “Public Opinion” Research Institute on behalf of the “Fellow citizens fund” NJSC, 1.5 million ethnic Kazakhs want to move to Kazakhstan for the permanent residence. Additionally, according to some experts, China is currently ready to take an inventory of 800,000 ethnic Kazakh documents and move to Kazakhstan, if the political situation with regard to the country's ethnic minorities improves.
In this regard, we should bear in mind that an actual number of Kazakhs living in countries such as Russia, Uzbekistan and China might be quite higher than the official figure. It is estimated that there are 4-5 million in Uzbekistan, 1.5-2 million in Russia and around 2.5-3 million Kazakhs in China. This means, that the transition potential may be even higher.
This nomad camp may last for the 1.5 centuries
If we take into account a current level of ethnic migration in Kazakhstan, it will take many years to relocate an estimated 1.5 million migrants. Researchers say that an optimistic scenario of evacuating 40,000 people would take 38 years. In the current year, it will take 152 years or 1.5 centuries to sustain the current scenario of ethnic immigration of 10,000 people per year.
Over a 5-year period, the flow of repatriates to Kazakhstan decreased from 32.2% (308,832 people) in the period from 2007 to 2011 to 2012-2019, which means to 8.3% (80,617 people) over the past 8 years.
Thus, if 61,776 people came to Kazakhstan per year in the previous 5 years, the flow of repatriates had decreased to 10,077 people in the past 8 years (2012-2019 years). In its turn, it reflects deteriorating economic conditions and legal status of resettlement of ethnic Kazakhs in the historical and ethnic homeland, the lack of incentives for the return processes, poor organizational, information and communication activities of government agencies with ethnic Kazakhs around the world.
ZHALIYEV N.B, Managing Director of “Fellow citizens fund” NJSC
KUCHUKOVA N.K., Doctor of Economics, Professor