Ukraine’s economy badly needs working-age refugees to come back – report

24 July, 09:23 PM
Women make up 68% of refugees from Ukraine (Photo:depositphotos/halfpoint)

Women make up 68% of refugees from Ukraine (Photo:depositphotos/halfpoint)

The potential non-return of 2.8 million working-age women refugees to Ukraine could severely impact the country's economy, costing it 10% of pre-war GDP, Bloomberg reported on July 24.

Citing Russian economist Alexander Isakov, Bloomberg writes that the worst-case scenario could mean that the Ukrainian economy could lose up to $20 billion in annual output.

The mass exodus of women, who comprise 68% of Ukrainian refugees, is significant since men aged between 18 and 60 are barred from leaving the country during the war.

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Despite the Ukrainian government's ambitious post-war recovery plans to double the economy by 2032, the Economy Ministry acknowledges a shortfall of 4.5 million workers and entrepreneurs necessary to achieve this target.

Bloomberg points out that although internally displaced individuals can still contribute to Ukraine's economy, refugees who have found employment abroad are paying taxes and bolstering economies elsewhere.

While there's a likelihood of many refugees returning post-war, no guarantees exist regarding the successful repatriation of a specific number. The longer the conflict lasts, the more challenging it becomes to persuade refugees to return.

Referencing the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, it took nearly a decade post-war in Bosnia in the 1990s to repatriate half of the 2 million refugees and internally displaced persons.

Isakov's calculations suggest a similar scenario for Ukraine, with only half of all refugees returning, would result in an annual economic loss of $10 billion. This translates to 5% of GDP, considering the possibility of some men and families relocating to Europe, joining the women who have chosen to remain abroad.

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