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On 26 July 2014, a plenary session of the Parliament was held. Changes in the Law on Healthcare of Georgia were among the discussion topics. The Deputy Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, Mariam Jashi, elaborated upon a catastrophic situation in the field of reproductive health in Georgia. She pointed out that the statistics of the artificial termination of pregnancy are alarming. The Head of the Healthcare and Social Issues Committee of the Parliament, Dimitri Khundadze, also addressed the MPs. He stated:  “According to the United Nations, the population of Georgia is expected to reduce by 1,170,000 people by 2050 while the populations of Azerbaijan and Armenia are expected to grow by 34% and 7%, respectively. As a result, a population imbalance is expected to occur in the South Caucasus which could become the cause of severe political crises. The birth rate in Georgia was higher in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War than it is today. The peak was 1961 when 124,000 babies were born while today it is less than a half of that number. According to the official data, the number of abortions is more than a 100 per day but unofficially it could be more than 200.”

FactCheck

took interest in this statement and verified its accuracy.

Concerning the aforementioned statistics of the United Nations and the demographics of Georgia, we consulted with Professor Anzor Totadze.

Totadze told us that according to the United Nations Population Fund data (second edition, 2010); the population of Georgia is expected to reduce by 1,170,000 people (28%) by 2050, amounting to 3.3 million people. The population of Armenia will grow by 7% and amount to 3.3 million while the population of Azerbaijan will grow by 34% to 11 million people. The populations of Georgia and Armenia will constitute 18.7% each in the population of the South Caucasus while the share of Azerbaijan will be equal to 62.6%.

According to Professor Totadze, the share of the Georgian population in the population of the South Caucasus region is constantly decreasing. The population of Georgia was equal to 45.5% of the total population of the region in 1926 while the populations of Azerbaijan and Armenia constituted 39.5% and 15%, respectively. It should be pointed out that the population of Georgia was more than that of Azerbaijan until 1965. After this, there was a sharp growth in the population of Azerbaijan which amounted to 8.9 million people in 2009 while in Georgia the number of the population was equal to 4.4 million. The population of the South Caucasus in total was 16.5 million people in 2009. The share of the Georgian population was only 26.5%; 19.6% for Armenia and 53.9% for Azerbaijan.

According to Totadze, a sharp reduction of the population was observed in Georgia after 1990. Among the main reasons were the high migration and mortality rates and a low birth rate. From 1990 to 2000, the population of Georgia reduced by 715,000 people and by 526,000 people from 2000 to 2010. In total, in just two decades the population of Georgia reduced by 1.241 million people (22.72%) amounting to 4.129 million in 2010. Hence, for the past 20 years, the Georgian population has been reducing by 59,000 people each year.

For further clarity of the issue, we looked into the birth rate statistics since 2000 published on the official website of the National Statistics Office of Georgia.

Year

Live Births

Birth Rate

(per 1,000 population)

2001

47,589

10.9

2002

46,605

10.7

2003

46,194

10.7

2004

49,572

11.5

2005

46,512

10.7

2006

47,795

10.9

2007

49,287

11.2

2008

56,565

12.9

2009

63,377

14.4

2010

62,585

14.1

2011

58,014

12.9

2012

57,031

12.7

2013

58,878

12.9

As the data above suggest, the highest number of births was recorded in 2009 while in 2003 it was the lowest. A sharp reduction in births was not observed in these years as the number of live births varied from 46,000 to 63,000.

In his statement Dimitri Khundadze also talked about the artificial terminations of pregnancy (abortions).  FactCheck

sent an official letter to the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia requesting the 2000-2013 official statistics of abortion. Our letter was redirected to the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health which provided the requested data:

Year

Total Number

Abortion Rate (per 1,000 live births)

2000

14,951

319.7

2001

15,008

326.2

2002

13,908

308.8

2003

13,834

313.7

2004

17,210

371.1

2005

19,734

419.7

2006

21,204

443.1

2007

20,644

417.3

2008

22,062

393.8

2009

24,310

394.2

2010

25,585

413.3

2011

31,185

542.3

2012

39,225

689.5

2013

37,018

641.7

As the data above make clear, the number of recorded abortions has increased sharply and amounted to 37,018 in 2013 as compared to 14,951 in 2000.

The preliminary statistics of the first half of 2014 are as follows:

Month

Number of Abortions

January

3,003

February

2,879

March

2,702

April

2,540

May

2,654

June

2,649

Total

16,427

In total, 16,427 abortions have been recorded in the first six months of 2014.

Conclusion

According to the United Nations Population Fund data (second edition, 2010), by 2050 the population of Georgia is expected to reduce by 28% while the populations of Armenia and Azerbaijan are expected to grow by 7% and 34%, respectively.

According to demographer, Anzor Totadze, a sharp decrease in the birth rates in Georgia started in 1992. In total, 46,000 babies were born in Georgia in 2005 almost halving the birth rate as compared to the previous decades (an average of 93,000 babies each year were born from 1960 to 1990).

A sharp reduction in births was not observed from 2000 to 2013 as the number of live births varied from 46,000 to 63,000. However, if we compare these data with those from the 1960's to the 1990's then, of course, the birth rates have reduced.

As for the artificial termination of pregnancy, according to the 2013 data, 37,018 abortions were officially registered which amounts to an average of 100 abortions each day.

Based upon the aforementioned data, FactCheck concludes that Dimitri Khundadze’s statement:  “According to the United Nations, the population of Georgia is expected to reduce by 1,170,000 people by 2050 while the populations of Azerbaijan and Armenia are expected to grow by 34% and 7%, respectively. The birth rate is reduced and the number of abortions, according to the official data, is more than a 100 per day,” is TRUE.

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