This paper focuses on demographic patterns (fertility, marriage, aging, death, migration, etc.) in Uzbekistan since the 1980s. Demographic security is regarded as a major component of social security, which could have negative effects on the country’s development. The author discusses the different waves of demographic growth and focuses on changes in the birth rate up until the 2000s. At this point, however, she omits to stress the crucial impact of the fertility transition that occurred in Uzbekistan during the 1980s just after the peak of birth that occurred at a time when improved access to healthcare facilities meant better protection of mother and child. The author is naturally right to mention that the economic reasons are important to understanding the declining birth rate, but the birth-rate trends also need to be inscribed within a more holistic context of transition. The same misunderstanding occurs about the rise in the birth rate in the 2000s, as the author forgets to stress the consequences of the baby boom in the 1980s on this peak which ought to be studied using a cohort analysis. Moreover, the author stresses that indicators like general mortality and infant mortality have improved in recent years. She writes that international demographic surveys show, on the contrary, that infant mortality is now far higher, but explains the difference using an insufficient methodological approach since we know that the statistical system suffered a double deterioration, firstly through a diminution in completeness of vital registration, and secondly through a decline in quality due to definitional problems and arbitrary transfers of infant deaths (0-1 year old) to child deaths (1-4 year old). To conclude, I would say that this paper paints a very optimistic picture regarding socio-demographic realities in Uzbekistan. The author’s analysis is based on official data that need to be taken with circumspection but offers no critical examination of them and remains ultimately too descriptive.
Sophie Hohmann, School of Advanced Studies for Social Sciences, Paris