Northwest Eurasia Demography & Development Handout
Remember that this region includes all of Northwestern Eurasia. It has two major subdivisions – Europe and the
countries of the Former Soviet Union. Several of the countries of the Former Soviet Union are considered and the
part of western Russia lie within the traditional boundaries of Europe. For our purposes, however, Europe is that
part of western Eurasia that was never part of the Former Soviet Union (and is not part of Turkey).
RELIGION AND LANGUAGE
Christianity and Indo-European Languages
Most Europeans are Christians, in a cultural sense if not in practice. The three major branches of Christianity are
Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy and these are all present in Europe and the parts of the
Former Soviet Union that lie within the traditional boundaries of Europe (the Baltic States, the European Republics,
and Russia west of the Urals). Roman Catholicism is dominant in the countries of Southern Europe and adjacent
areas. France, Belgium, Poland and Southern Germany also have large Catholic populations. Protestantism is
concentrated in countries of Northwestern Europe. Eastern Orthodoxy is found principally in Eastern Europe and the
Balkans (including Greece). To see this distribution, consult the map at the bottom of page 35 of the atlas.
The distribution of religion is closely related to the distribution of language. Look at the map at the top of page 35 of
the atlas. Most European languages are part of the Indo-European family of languages. Three major branches of this
family are dominant: Romance languages, Germanic languages, and Slavic languages. Romance languages are
languages that descended from Latin. They include French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian. These are
concentrated mostly in Southern Europe. Germanic languages are related to German. These include English,
Dutch, German, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. They are dominant in Western and Northern Europe. Slavic
languages include Polish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian. These
are dominant in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
Within the Former Soviet Union, there is an area referred to as the
Slavic Coreland. It is that part of the Former Soviet Region that
contains the most people, the most important cities, and the most
economic power. The Slavic Coreland is only 20% of the total land
area of the region, but it contains 75% of the population. It has a
triangular shape. Its northwest point is the Baltic Sea. The
southwest corner is the Black Sea. The eastern point is
Novosibirsk, a town in southwest Siberia. The Coreland includes
all of the Baltic States, all of the European Republics and the most
heavily populated parts of Russia. Highly important to the
Coreland is the Black Sea. With the exception of ports on the
distant Pacific, the Black Sea has the region’s only warm water
ports. The Slavic Coreland is bounded to the north by Subarctic
Climates, to the south by the Caucasus Mountains and desert
climates, and on the west by Europe itself.
What is the dominant language family of the Slavic Coreland?
What is the dominant religion of the Slavic Coreland? If you are
unsure, check the maps on page 35 of your atlas.
Islam and Turkic Languages
The fastest growing religion in Europe is Islam. This is due in part to the relatively small number of Muslims (it is
easier to double your size if you start out with 100 people than it is to double if you start out with 1,000,000) and to
the influx of Muslim immigrants who have higher birth rates than the native European population. Islam is growing
faster in the large cities of Western and Northern Europe because these have been attractive destinations for Muslim
immigrants from around the world.
Within Europe, Islam is particularly important in the Balkan Peninsula. Albania has a majority Muslim population
and there are significant Muslim minorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia. Much of the
Balkan Peninsula was controlled at one time by the Ottoman Empire, an Islamic state.
In the Former Soviet Region, Islam is the dominant religion outside of the Slavic Coreland. This is particularly true
in the “-Stan” countries. Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea, is also Islamic. The dominant language family in these
Muslim countries is Turkic.
The Caucasus is a cauldron of centrifugal forces. This includes the Caucasus countries themselves as well as those
parts of Russia that are within the culture region. Caught between major cultural regions, the Caucasus is divided by
languages, religions, and rugged mountains. The region has been at war for most of its history, with residents
fighting each other as well as invaders. The 16 million people of this small area speak 30 separate languages from
five different language families. In Georgia, there are Caucasian languages. In and around Azerbaijan there are
Turkic languages. Armenian is an Indo-European language. There are also Slavic and Mongol languages.
As with languages, the Caucasus is a complex mix of religions. In Georgia, the Eastern Orthodox religion is
dominant. Azerbaijan is predominantly Islamic. Armenia is half Muslim and half Christian. Armenia claims to be
the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion. The Armenian Church predates both Eastern
Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Most of the Muslims in Armenia are Kurds, a group we will talk about more
when we study the North Africa and Southwest Asia.
Declining Russian power led to greater demands for independence throughout the Former Soviet Union. This is
particularly true in the Caucasus region. Nagorno Karabakh is a region of Azerbaijan. It is only 1700 square miles
with about 180,000 people. Approximately 80% of the people are ethnic Armenians. In the late 1980s and early
1990s, the region declared itself an independent Armenian republic. Supported by Armenia and Russia, the
Armenian enclave managed to expel the Azeri population and even grab more land. Thousands died in the fighting
and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. Ten years later, there are still 800,000 displaced persons, many
living in refugee camps with only temporary shelters. Most are Muslim.
Chechnya is not an independent country, but a part of Russia that lies in the northern Caucasus Mountains. Shortly
after the collapse of the USSR, Chechnya called for independence. In 1994, the Russian military crushed the
fledgling independence movement fearful 1) that other ethnic areas of Russia might also try to secede and 2) that
Chechen independence might cut off the flow of Caspian Sea oil. With their attempt at independence denied, groups
within Chechnya adopted terrorist tactics. In 1995, Chechen rebels took hostages in a hospital in southern Russia.
About 100 people died when Russian commandos unsuccessfully stormed the hospital. In 1996, Chechen gunman
held 3000 people hostage in a hospital in neighboring Dagestan. Rebels released most of the hostages, but took a
few with them as they tried to escape. Several hostages died when the Russian military intervened. In 2002,
Chechen rebels took 700 people hostage in a Moscow theater. When police stormed the theater, 129 hostages and
41 Chechens died. Chechens have also begun using car bombs and suicide bombing. In 2004, they bombed 20
government buildings in neighboring Ingushetia, killing 60 people. Also in 2004, rebels took over 1000 hostages at a
school in Northern Ossetia. Over 250 died and hundreds more were injured. (The recent political problems in
Georgia will be covered in the next section.) The struggle continues as Moscow tries to quell the unrest within
Chechnya with increasingly oppressive techniques and Chechen rebels attack civilian targets in Moscow (including
the subway system) and at home.
Devolutionary forces are also unleashed in Central Asia, where people are unified by religion, but divided
linguistically. The region has seen the revival of Islam, which had been suppressed during the Soviet period. As in
many Islamic areas, radical Islam is influential, but Central Asians largely reject Islamic fundamentalism.
Kazakhstan, with its huge ethnic Russian population, is carefully democratizing and has a growing economy.
Kyrgyzstan seemed to be doing okay until March 2005, when thousands of people, protesting election fraud, seized
the main government building. Fortunately, the Kyrgyz Supreme Court declared the election invalid. A new
government was peacefully elected.
Outside of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the situation is bleak. In Uzbekistan, a harsh regime has fueled the rise of
radical Islam. Hundreds have died, both from terrorist attacks and from government attacks on peaceful protesters.
In Turkmenistan, President-for-Life Niyazov has sharply limited university students and faculty and has cut ties with
the outside. In Tajikistan, 50,000 people died in the civil war that followed independence.
The collapse of the Soviet Union had a profound effect on Europe. Germany was divided into East Germany and
West Germany after World War II. After the collapse of the USSR, the two parts reunified into a single country, the
most populous of Europe. Elsewhere, countries split apart. Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic
and Slovakia in 1993, along ethnic lines. Devolution also occurred in the Balkans. In fact, the term balkanization is
a geopolitical term that refers to the breakdown of a country into smaller, combative units. Like Czechoslovakia, the
Yugoslavia split along ethnic lines, but here in the Balkans, the breakup was brutal, particularly when Bosnia-
Hercegovina seceded. Over 100,000 died in the fighting, which was characterized by ethnic cleansing, rape
factories and other war crimes.
Population Size and Density
Eurasia North by Northwest has over 800 million people. This is about 12% of the population of the Earth. While
the Former Soviet Union is almost five times bigger in land area than Europe, Europe has almost twice as many
people. European countries vary widely in population size. Four European countries – Germany, France, the United
Kingdom and Italy – have over 50 million people. Europe also has five microstates with populations smaller than
100,000 – Andorra (in the Pyrenees Mountains), Monaco (southeast coast of France),Vatican City and San Marino
(within Italy), and Liechtenstein (in the Alps between Austria and Switzerland).
Countries of the Former Soviet Region also vary in population size. Russia, with almost 150 million people,
contains about half the population of the region. Estonia, on the Baltic Sea, has just over one million people.
The three best predictors of arithmetic population density are accessibility, arability and insect-borne diseases.
Europe is much more accessible than the Former Soviet Region. In part, this is because it is a peninsula with many
peninsulas and because it is penetrated by numerous navigable rivers, much of Europe is highly accessible.
Accessibility of the Former Soviet Union is hampered by landforms and climates. The region has few peninsulas
when compared to Europe and fewer navigable rivers. Mountains block access to the south and to the east. Cold
climates freeze the Arctic Ocean much of the year and the Baltic Sea some of the year. The biggest rivers are in
Siberia. Frozen part of the year, these rivers create a boggy mess during the warm season. In Central Asia, deserts
add to accessibility and arability problems.
Europe has above average arability, with approximately a quarter of its land suitable for farming. This is because it
is not particularly hampered by very cold or very dry climates and because of the vast sedimentary cover that makes
up the North European Plain. (Eastern Europe, which is dominated by the North European Plain, has an astounding
43% soil fertility.) In contrast, the Former Soviet Union has only 9% arable land in spite of the huge areas of
sedimentary cover. It is hampered mostly by climates that are too cold or too dry.
Finally, located in the middle latitudes where winter helps limit insect populations, insect-borne diseases are not a
major problem for either Europe or the Former Soviet Union. Europe’s superior accessibility and arability make it
almost ten times more densely populated than the Former Soviet Union.
The most densely populated subregion of Europe is Western Europe, which has over 175 people per square
kilometer. Although Western Europe does not have the highest percent arable land in Europe, it is highly accessible,
with large areas of plains, coastline along the Atlantic, and navigable rivers that extend far into the interior of the
region. The least densely populated subregion of Europe is Northern Europe, which only has about 20 people per
square kilometer. Judging just by coastline, Northern Europe looks fairly accessible, but its colder climates and
remnant mountain and shield landforms can form significant barriers to internal accessibility. Low arability, also
caused by the climates and landforms, also keeps the population density low.
The most densely populated subregion of the Former Soviet Union is the Caucasus, with almost 90 people per
square kilometer. This is a bit of a mystery. This Alpine region does not have a large proportion of arable land, nor
does it seem particularly accessible. On the other hand, the lowland areas of this alpine landform have lovely
climates with long growing seasons, access to the Caspian or Black Seas, and little trouble with insect-borne
diseases. The European Republics are the second most densely populated, which is more immediately obvious.
Located in the sedimentary cover of the North European Plain, there is easier access to the west and a very high
proportion of arable land. The least densely populated subregion of Russia itself, which only has less than 10 people
per square kilometer. Much of the country, particularly Siberia, is inaccessible and only 7% of Russia’s land area is
By 2050, the population of Northwestern Eurasia will increase by about 1%. This overall modest gain conceals great
differences. The Slavic Coreland as well as Eastern Europe and the Balkans will all lose more than 10% of their
populations. Other regions are growing. The fastest growing subregion is Central Asia. The Caucasus, and those
regions of Europe historically aligned with the United States are also growing, but at a slower rate.
Remember that population change is a function of natural increase (or decrease) and immigration. To understand
why some places are gaining or losing population, you will have to look at birth rates and death rates (which
determine natural increase) and net migration.
Explaining Birth Rates
In Europe and the Slavic areas of the Former Soviet Union birth rates are range from 10 to 12 births for every 1000
people. Much of this region has a high proportion of people living in cities with very few farmers. Children are
expensive. Typically, they are a drain on family resources. From the time they are born until their early twenties,
children can cost their parents thousands of dollars each year in education, housing, clothing, food, entertainment
and a myriad other costs. In much of this region, it is not typical for children to contribute financially to a family’s
well being even when parents get older. Therefore, families tend to be small.
Pronatalist attitudes are not widespread in the areas with low birth rates. Although most Europeans practice a
form of Christianity, native Europeans tend to have much more secular attitudes than people in the United
States. This will be explained in more detail when we talk about European history. In the Former Soviet
Region, people also have very secular attitudes after almost a century of a regime that was hostile to religion.
Since 1990, the region has seen a resurgence of Orthodox Christianity; even so, residents of the region are also
much more secular than people in the United States.
Particularly since World War II, Europeans have been uniting economically and politically under the European
Union. Therefore, ethnic conflict is not widespread, though there has been increasing friction between
immigrant groups and host populations. Within the Slavic Coreland, ethnic conflict is not widespread either.
Outside of Europe and the Slavic Coreland, birth rates are much higher. Central Asia has the highest crude birth rate
(24). Most people of Central Asia are Muslims and many are farmers, which helps account for the high birth rates in
the region. In Central Asia there is also a fairly high level of ethnic conflict. The Caucasus has the second highest
birth rate (15). Within the Caucasus, birth rates are highest in Azerbaijan, which is a majority Muslim country. The
percent of people who are farmers is a bit higher than in Europe and the Slavic Coreland and there is a history of
ethnic conflict. For both Central Asia and the Caucasus, part of the source of ethnic conflict is the large number of
ethnic groups in both regions.
Northern and Western Europe have somewhat higher birth rates than you might expect given their high level of
urbanization. This is in part due to the high level of social support provided to families in these two regions.
Additionally, large numbers of immigrants move to those regions. Pronatalist attitudes are more common
among immigrant groups.
Explaining Death Rates
The lowest death rates in Northwestern Eurasia are found in Central Asia (7) and the Caucasus (8). This is in spite of
the fact that they are the poorest and the most rural of the subregions. The best explanation for their low birth rates
is that both regions have small elderly populations and large under-15 populations.
The rest of Northwestern Eurasia has a death rate around 10 or 11, which is still low, but higher than the world
average. This area is located primarily in the middle latitudes, is relatively rich, and has good access to health care.
Most European countries tend to have longer life expectancies and much lower infant mortality rates than found
even in the United States. Therefore, neither poverty nor infectious diseases contribute substantially to the death
rate. On the other hand, Europe has very long life expectancies. Combined with the low birth rate, this means that
Europe has the highest percentage of people over 65 in the world. Since the death rate for seniors is much higher
than it is for young people, Europe has a slightly elevated crude death rate.
While birth rates have fallen sharply in the post-Soviet period, death rates have climbed. The Slavic Coreland –
where most of the Former Soviet Region population is concentrated -- has a crude death rate of 15, which is 50%
higher than the world average. The region is located primarily in the middle latitudes so insect-borne diseases do not
contribute substantially to the death rate. During the Soviet era, one of the successes was universal health care. All
citizens of the Soviet Union received free medical care. There probably weren’t many bone marrow transplants or
quadruple bypasses, but the average person received very adequate health care. When the Soviet Union collapsed in
the early 1990s, its health system collapsed with it.
In 1985, the infant mortality rate in the region was only 11. The rate has almost doubled over the last two decades.
Currently, the infant mortality rate is 19. Although this is much higher than Europe, it is less than half the world
infant mortality rate, which is 52.
Death from communicable – and controllable – diseases is high. Tuberculosis rates have increased ten times in the
last decade. AIDS is rapidly increasing. Russian health agencies project that 20% of the Russian workforce will have
AIDS in the by 2020.
The average life expectancies in the region are shorter than for the world (though they are slightly longer for
women). Part of the discrepancy between male and female life expectancy can be explained by alcohol
consumption. After the collapse of the USSR, alcohol production was denationalized. The price fell and
consumption grew. Russians are the leading consumers of hard liquor, particularly vodka and moonshine According
to the Moscow Psychiatric Research Institute, alcohol is now directly or indirectly responsible for one third of all
deaths in Russia – and probably elsewhere in the region. Men are the leading consumers of alcohol. Alcohol
contributes to deaths not just by alcohol poisoning, but by increasing cardiovascular disease, violence and suicides.
More than 80% of murderers and 60% of murder victims were drunk at the time of the crime. More than half of
people who attempt suicide are drunk.
For every person who migrates out of Europe, three people migrate in. Europe is the second richest region in the
world after Anglo-America (the United States and Canada). Like Anglo-America, the wealthier European countries
are magnets for immigrants. Within Europe, the primary international migration trend is from poorer countries of
Eastern Europe and the Balkans to the richer countries of Western and Northern Europe. That said, in 2008 Southern
Europe is currently the biggest draw to immigrants mostly because their economies have expanded in the last
decade. With the recent contract of Southern European economies, immigration has slowed down substantially,
though the official figures are not yet available but immigration to Southern Europe is still the major magnet for
immigration in Northwestern Eurasia.
Migrants from outside of Europe come from relatively nearby regions – Africa and the Middle East. There is
substantial migration from Asia as well. People often prefer to migrate to countries who were once colonizers of
their home country. The United Kingdom draws most of its immigrants from the former British Empire and French
immigrants are more likely to come from francophone (French-speaking) countries. Spain has been particularly open
to migration from Latin America.
Europe needs its migrants. Migrants fill an economic and a demographic need. They take low-paying jobs, start new
businesses, and help establish trading ties with their native lands. They also help keep Europe growing. These
migrants tend to be relatively young and they have higher birth rates than the native population. Without them, much
of Europe would face falling populations and the lack of new people to spur the economy and care for the aging
In spite of fulfilling a stark need for slow-growing European societies, migrants also pose challenges. Although
some European societies are open to immigration, they expect immigrants to strip themselves of their native
identities and to adopt western attitudes. Many migrants resist giving up their traditional ways. Even when
immigrants adopt European customs, they often face significant discrimination.
Muslim immigrants have posed a particular problem. Even liberal, secular Europeans are concerned about the
growing politicization of Islam. After a series of religious wars that cost Europe millions of lives, there was a
growing consensus that religious tolerance and secularism are the best way to avoid further tragedy. Political Islam
often rejects secularism; tolerance of a group that rejects secularism has posed a significant problem for Europeans.
Within the entire Former Soviet Region, migration is balanced: for every person moving out a person moves in. As
in Europe, there are stark differences within the region. Russia, Belarus and Kazakstan have low positive net
migration – slightly more people immigrate than emigrate. Every other country has negative migration. This makes
sense for Central Asian and Caucasus countries that are plagued by poverty and civil unrest. (In spite of negative
net migration, Central Asia’s high birth rates and low death rates make it the fastest growing subregion of
What may not make sense is why the Baltic States are losing people. This probably has a lot to do with these
countries’ memberships in the European Union. People who live in the Baltic States are free to migrate to Europe.
It is likely that in spite of the relatively good economic fortunes of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with respect to the
Former Soviet Union, the region still lags behind the U.S.-oriented countries of Europe.
Europe was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Starting in Great Britain in the mid-1700s, there was a
dramatic shift from animate forms of energy to inanimate forms – from work done by people and animals to work
done by machines. The Industrial Revolution spread eastward, but Western Europe was the first region to be
industrialized. The revolution gradually spread east and south; the Balkan countries were the last to feel its effects.
The first countries to adopt industrialization have already reached the post-industrial phase of development. Ten
percent or much less of the workforce is in the agricultural sector. The number of workers in the secondary sector
has begun to shrink because increasingly machines have replaced humans in factories. In these post-industrial areas,
most people work in the tertiary sector.
Eastern Europe and the Balkans are still industrializing, though they have made great strides since World War II.
Compared to U.S.-oriented areas, these Soviet-oriented areas are more rural because the shift from agriculture to
manufacturing is not complete. A relatively high proportion of people working in manufacturing because that sector
is not as efficient and sophisticated as it is in U.S.-oriented Europe. Even here, however, the tertiary sector is the
Western Europe, with its tremendous accessibility, arability, and emphasis on widespread trade, is understandably
wealthy. Unexpectedly, Northern Europe is the richest of the European subregions. It is rich in part, because of its
tremendous natural resources. Norway, the richest of the Northern European countries, controls part of the
petroleum deposits in the North Sea. Iceland has tremendous fishing wealth. Sweden and Finland have extensive
forest reserves associated with their subarctic climate areas and they have metals and gemstones in their shield areas.
Generally, primary goods do not enrich a region. The only exception to that rule of thumb occurs when a region has
a stable government and a small population. Both of these are true of the countries of Northern Europe.
While Northern Europe has the highest per capita GDP, its total GDP is relatively small because it has a small
population. Western Europe by far has the biggest economy with a 2007 GDP of over $8 TRILLION. Northern
Europe’s economy was much smaller, with less than $1 trillion. Only the Balkans has a smaller total GDP.
In the Former Soviet Union
Long after Europe began to industrialize, Russia and its neighbors remained feudal economic backwater. Russian
tsars tried to industrialize their country, but their dictatorial, top-down approach did not produce the vibrant trading
middle class and innovative spirit that accompanied the bottom-up industrialization of the west. The tsars wanted to
revolutionize production without allowing the necessary revolutions in religion, education, land tenure, and social
In 1917, the tsars were replaced by non-royal dictators who adopted the same top-down approach. The Soviets were
quite successful in developing military-related industries, but they were not so successful at producing consumer
goods. (After all, who wants a member of the Politburo designing teen fashion or even toilet paper?)
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been an upwelling of legal and illegal trade. Innovation is on the
rise and there is a growing middle class. Unfortunately, corruption is rampant throughout the region and this
dampens foreign investment and healthy economic growth. On the other hand, Russia, with its vast areas of
sedimentary cover, is an oil-rich nation. The recent rise in oil profits has brought billions of dollars to the region.
Although this may cause Russia’s economy to boom, economies that rely on primary-sector exports are usually
unhealthy unless they have exerted the political will to use profits to develop other sectors of the economy and to
share the country’s resource wealth with all of the country’s citizens. This political will is unfortunately rare. In
Russia, like most oil-rich countries, wealth tends to become highly concentrated at the top. Rather than benefit all
citizens, it tends to cause price inflation while wages for most of the population remain stagnant or even decline.
Further, the economy is vulnerable to boom-and-bust cycles as the price of primary exports rises and falls on the
Development has been uneven in the Former Soviet Union. The Baltic States are the richest countries by far in terms
of per capita income. The Baltic States occupy relatively good real estate. They have access to the Baltic Sea and
relatively high soil fertility. A critical reason for their wealth is the fact that they were admitted to the European
Union in 2004. This was possible because they had already achieved the social, economic and political stability
required for admission. Once admitted, they were able to participate in much freer trade with their wealthy European
neighbors. Because of their small populations, the Baltic States do not have large economies and they are
overshadowed by their Russian neighbors. Russia, the largest country in the world contains half of the region’s
population. It is not surprising, then, that the Russian economy would also be the largest of the region. Russia
generates two-thirds of the region’s total GDP.
The poorest subregion in terms of per capita GDP is Central Asia, which is landlocked, dominated by desert
climates, and socially unstable. These factors outweigh the fact that Central Asia has good fuel resources.
Social Equity (Distribution of Wealth)
The European Union is committed, on paper at least, to social equity. Social welfare institutions are common,
particularly in the wealthier countries of Europe. Most European countries spend more than a quarter of their GDP
on social welfare each year. Further, European countries account for 15 out of the 20 countries where income was
most equitably distributed. One measure of social equity is the GINI Coefficient. The smaller the number, the more
equally distributed the country’s wealth.
While all subregions of Europe have greater social equity than the world as a whole (GINI coefficient greater than
56), wealth is most equally distributed in Northern Europe (25.6). Southern Europe has the most inequitable
In the Former Soviet Union
During the Soviets period, the government provided a tremendous social safety net. Most people were provided
places to live, education, enough food to eat, and health care. Living conditions may have been crowded, there may
have been a shortage of meat and vegetables, and never enough toilet paper or cigarettes, but the masses experienced
much better living conditions during the Soviet period than they had under the tsars. The safety net collapsed with
the collapse of the Soviet Union. Housing prices, the cost of education and health care and food have risen sharply.
Wealth is more concentrated here than in Europe but is still more equitably distributed than in the world as a whole
(or in the United States). The most equitable division of wealth is found in the European Republics, where Belarus
still has a Marxist-style government. This contrasts with Russia, where the GINI index is above 40.
While there is a sense of excitement and possibility, the changing economy is accompanied by a sense of fear and a
substantial degree of suffering, particularly among older people. For this reason, there is a growing call by people of
the region for a return to the former glory of the Soviet system.