Belarus is in a demographic hole - who will pay pensions?

According to the expert, Belarusian men would rather choose to "live" in retirement than to work in old age. 

According to the expert, Belarusian men would rather choose to "live" in retirement than to work in old age.  /

This year, a record-low number of children will enter the first grade in Belarus. In the fall of 2024, we will have only 97 thousand first graders. For comparison, in 2023, 110 thousand children went to school; in 2022, 115 thousand, and 2021 - 118 thousand.

Economist Uladzimir Kavalkin, head of the project "Kosht Urada," explained in the studio of Euroradio how the demographic crisis in Belarus affects the economy.

"It tells us that in 10 years, we'll have far fewer students and workers. This means that the problem of paying pensions in Belarus will only worsen in 10, 15, 20 years. Fewer and fewer people of working age will have to support older people. This means only one thing: pensions will be cut," says economist Kavalkin.

The authorities are aware of this, although they do not publicly declare it a problem. They are trying to solve the personnel problem from the opposite direction. They are promising pensioners various benefits and encouraging them to work instead of sitting at home and drawing a pension. The reduced pension, in this case, will supposedly be higher.

Will this help the situation in the labour market?

"The state does not have the money for such a policy. A sensible, long-term policy. Maybe they will pursue this policy for one year, maybe two years. But the situation is such that it will be more profitable for people to stay in retirement. This problem will be observed especially among men," says Kavalkin.

The figures support this opinion. In Belarus, men die very early - on average, they barely survive 64 years. These are the official data from Belstat.

Today, in Belarus, there are 220,000 men aged 65-70, 150 thousand aged 70-75, and 75+ years—another 150 thousand. In total, there are just over 500 thousand men over 65 in Belarus. There are almost twice as many women of this age—900 thousand.

"Men will not go to work because they want to spend their last five years from 60 to 65 in retirement. Women will be the only ones left. Women are strong, but what can they do at that age? They are not strong enough to do simple work. Or we will be treated by female doctors called out of retirement," the expert predicts.

Many countries have demographic problems; some solve them by inviting migrant workers. Belarus could do the same if we had work that would interest foreigners.

"We need economic growth to bring here guest workers like they did in Russia, which is neither predicted nor observed. So there will be a deterioration, unfortunately. This is the main forecast. The guest workers won't come, because it's better to work as a taxi driver in Warsaw, for example, than in Minsk. And Belarusians not only don't want to be born, but those born are leaving," summarises Uladzimir Kavalkin.

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