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Shalva Kereselidze Speaks About a “Catastrophic Dynamic” of Population Decline

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Shalva Kereselidze’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.

Resume: The population decreased both during the inter-census period (from 2002 to 2014) and after the last census; that is, subsequent to 2014. As of 1 January 2022, Georgia’s population amounted to 3,688,600. Since 2002, the country’s population decreased by nearly 7.6% (302,700 people). In the previous year alone, Georgia’s population dropped by a further 1.1% (40,000 people) and reached a historic low. Of note is that population reduction dynamic is particularly high in rural areas.

In the aforementioned 20-year period, there has a been a trend of population decrease in every Georgian region except for Tbilisi and Ajara. The highest figures of population decline are in Racha`-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti as well as the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Imereti regions.

The MP correctly highlights the reduction of population of Georgia. In addition, it is also right to claim that this problem is more acute in the regions and rural areas. However, the figures in Shalva Kereselidze’s statement are not entirely accurate. It is an exaggeration to argue that the population has been halved in certain settlements. Therefore, FactCheck gives a MOSTLY TRUE verdict to Shalva Kereselidze’s statement.

Analysis

On 4 October 2022, at the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia, For Georgia member, Shalva Kereselidze, stated: “The number of the population has been declining significantly as compared to the previous censuses. There is a particularly catastrophic dynamic of population decline in mountainous settlements and villages. One of the unfortunate examples here is the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti regions where the amount of the population was 50,000 around 15-20 years ago whilst today 28,000 people live there. The situation is similar in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, Imereti, Guria and mountainous settlements and villages across Ajara where the population has been almost halved.”

The first universal census of the Georgian population was carried out in 2002 and the next universal census followed in 2014. According to the 2014 universal public census, the Georgian population was nearly 3.713 million which is approximately 658,000 less as compared to the 2002 figure. As reported by the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the results of the 2002 universal public census had not reflected the reality and some emigrants were registered as actually living in the country. In reality, Georgia population did not exceed 4 million in 2002 based on surveys conducted in different periods. The National Statistics Office of Georgia has adjusted the number of the population registered in 2002 and cut the figure by nearly 8.7%. Therefore, FactCheck offers an overview of the changes in the number of the Georgian population (since 2002 until today) based on updated data.

According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, Georgia’s population amounted to 3,688,600 as of 1 January 2022. Since 2002, the country’s population decreased by nearly 7.6% (302,700 people). In the previous year alone, Georgia’s population dropped by a further 1.1% (40,000 people) and reached a historic low.

Based on 2022’s data, the population decreased in every Georgian region except for Tbilisi and Ajara in the aforementioned 20-year period. The highest figures of population decline are in Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti as well as the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Imereti regions. Since 2002, the population decreased by 37.3% in Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, by 27.7% in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and by 26.2% in Imereti.

Since 2014, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti show the highest figure of population decline with 15.7%, followed by Imereti with 13.3% and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti by 10.1%. Since 2014, the population has increased in Tbilisi, Ajara and Kvemo Kartli. All other Georgian regions had their population decreased (see Graph 1).

Of note is that the population decline dynamic is particularly high in rural areas. After the last universal public census in 2014, the number of the population in rural areas decreased by 6.8% (108,200) and increased by 3.8% (80,000) in urban areas.

Graph 1: Number of Population by Regions in 2002, 2014 and 2022

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

Generally, there are two major factors that affect changes in the number of the population: the natural surplus which is the difference between livebirths and deaths and net migration which is the difference between the number of emigrants and immigrants. According to the latest data, both indicators are negative in Georgia.

Therefore, Shalva Kereselidze’s statement that there is a population decline dynamic in Georgia, particularly in the regions and rural areas, is true. The MP highlights the outflow of people from the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti regions. Although the figures he provided are not accurate, this region does indeed have the highest population decline. FactCheck assesses that the MP’s claim that population in mountainous settlements and villages in Ajara has been almost halved is an exaggeration and warrants more specificity. There is a population decline in a number of cases across Ajara’s mountainous settlements; for instance, in the Shuakhevi municipality, although the population has not been halved in any of Ajara’s municipalities. There could be one or several villages where the population has indeed been halved, although a generalisation of this situation would further exaggerate the already alarming reality. The number of the population has significantly decreased in every other region named by the MP. Therefore, FactCheck gives a MOSTLY TRUE verdict to Shalva Kereselidze’s statement.

Shalva Kereselidze Speaks About a “Catastrophic Dynamic” of Population Decline

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Shalva Kereselidze’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.

Resume: The population decreased both during the inter-census period (from 2002 to 2014) and after the last census; that is, subsequent to 2014. As of 1 January 2022, Georgia’s population amounted to 3,688,600. Since 2002, the country’s population decreased by nearly 7.6% (302,700 people). In the previous year alone, Georgia’s population dropped by a further 1.1% (40,000 people) and reached a historic low. Of note is that population reduction dynamic is particularly high in rural areas.

In the aforementioned 20-year period, there has a been a trend of population decrease in every Georgian region except for Tbilisi and Ajara. The highest figures of population decline are in Racha`-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti as well as the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Imereti regions.

The MP correctly highlights the reduction of population of Georgia. In addition, it is also right to claim that this problem is more acute in the regions and rural areas. However, the figures in Shalva Kereselidze’s statement are not entirely accurate. It is an exaggeration to argue that the population has been halved in certain settlements. Therefore, FactCheck gives a MOSTLY TRUE verdict to Shalva Kereselidze’s statement.

Analysis

On 4 October 2022, at the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia, For Georgia member, Shalva Kereselidze, stated: “The number of the population has been declining significantly as compared to the previous censuses. There is a particularly catastrophic dynamic of population decline in mountainous settlements and villages. One of the unfortunate examples here is the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti regions where the amount of the population was 50,000 around 15-20 years ago whilst today 28,000 people live there. The situation is similar in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, Imereti, Guria and mountainous settlements and villages across Ajara where the population has been almost halved.”

The first universal census of the Georgian population was carried out in 2002 and the next universal census followed in 2014. According to the 2014 universal public census, the Georgian population was nearly 3.713 million which is approximately 658,000 less as compared to the 2002 figure. As reported by the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the results of the 2002 universal public census had not reflected the reality and some emigrants were registered as actually living in the country. In reality, Georgia population did not exceed 4 million in 2002 based on surveys conducted in different periods. The National Statistics Office of Georgia has adjusted the number of the population registered in 2002 and cut the figure by nearly 8.7%. Therefore, FactCheck offers an overview of the changes in the number of the Georgian population (since 2002 until today) based on updated data.

According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, Georgia’s population amounted to 3,688,600 as of 1 January 2022. Since 2002, the country’s population decreased by nearly 7.6% (302,700 people). In the previous year alone, Georgia’s population dropped by a further 1.1% (40,000 people) and reached a historic low.

Based on 2022’s data, the population decreased in every Georgian region except for Tbilisi and Ajara in the aforementioned 20-year period. The highest figures of population decline are in Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti as well as the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Imereti regions. Since 2002, the population decreased by 37.3% in Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, by 27.7% in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and by 26.2% in Imereti.

Since 2014, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti show the highest figure of population decline with 15.7%, followed by Imereti with 13.3% and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti by 10.1%. Since 2014, the population has increased in Tbilisi, Ajara and Kvemo Kartli. All other Georgian regions had their population decreased (see Graph 1).

Of note is that the population decline dynamic is particularly high in rural areas. After the last universal public census in 2014, the number of the population in rural areas decreased by 6.8% (108,200) and increased by 3.8% (80,000) in urban areas.

Graph 1: Number of Population by Regions in 2002, 2014 and 2022

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

Generally, there are two major factors that affect changes in the number of the population: the natural surplus which is the difference between livebirths and deaths and net migration which is the difference between the number of emigrants and immigrants. According to the latest data, both indicators are negative in Georgia.

Therefore, Shalva Kereselidze’s statement that there is a population decline dynamic in Georgia, particularly in the regions and rural areas, is true. The MP highlights the outflow of people from the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti regions. Although the figures he provided are not accurate, this region does indeed have the highest population decline. FactCheck assesses that the MP’s claim that population in mountainous settlements and villages in Ajara has been almost halved is an exaggeration and warrants more specificity. There is a population decline in a number of cases across Ajara’s mountainous settlements; for instance, in the Shuakhevi municipality, although the population has not been halved in any of Ajara’s municipalities. There could be one or several villages where the population has indeed been halved, although a generalisation of this situation would further exaggerate the already alarming reality. The number of the population has significantly decreased in every other region named by the MP. Therefore, FactCheck gives a MOSTLY TRUE verdict to Shalva Kereselidze’s statement.


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