Why Women Outnumber Men in Russia and Ukraine Pew research center released a new study explaining why there are more women than men in the countries of post-USSR, including Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. The gender map shows regions by their sex ratios, with the space occupied by the former Soviet Union painted dark blue.

Post-USSR demographics stand out in gender rankings

The unfavorable demographics is the major factor driving Russian and Ukrainian women to seek partners abroad. Coupled with the traditional attitude that “a woman’s happiness is in the family”, which means a lady must have a husband and kids in order to even consider herself content with her life, this is the reason why beautiful and intelligent women with college education (lawyers, engineers, accountants) are eager to meet foreign guys from countries of Europe, America, and Oceania.

Post-USSR demographics stand out in gender rankings

Graphics by Pew research center

The research by Pew emphasizes that “the former Soviet Union stands out from the rest of the world”, based on 2015 United Nations Data. “This region has been predominantly female since at least World War II,” the study says. At that time, the ratio of men to women was 76.6 to 100.

In the subsequent years it improved, however the current rations for 2015 are still strongly imbalanced with 86.8 men for 100 women in Russia today.

Other post USSR gender ratings by country:

  • Ukraine (86.3)
  • Belarus (86.8)
  • Armenia (86.5)
  • Latvia (84.8)
  • Lithuania (85.3)
  • Estonia (88)

To understand how different it is:

  • The gender balance in the USA is nearly in an equilibrium, with 98.3 men for 100 women.
  • Worldwide statistics are 101.8 men to 100 women.

In other words, there is even a stronger imbalance in the rest of the world, with many countries having more males than females. Basically, the majority of Asia, including 2 largest countries, China and India, have more men than women.

What sets Russia, Ukraine, and other post-Soviet republics apart

Women outlive men in post-USSR

Red numbers belong to countries of post-USSR.

The population of former Soviet republics is substantially older than general numbers world-wide. Women there also live significantly longer than males, as compared to the planet’s averages.

“Younger men in the former Soviet Union also have an unusually high mortality rate”, confirms the research. While the life expectancy of Russian females is 75.6 years, males will on average reach only the age of 64.2, demonstrating a staggering 11.4-year gap. The life expectancy gender gap is consistently high throughout the whole post-Soviet space, while it’s only 4.5-year difference in the world in general.

Demographer Murray Feshbach lists alcohol-related incidents as one of the major causes of early deaths in males, as well as suicides, and ill-health. He stated: “Average alcohol consumption per capita is double the rate the WHO [World Health Organization] considers dangerous to one’s health.” Three times more people die in Russia from heart-related deceases as compared to Europe or the USA.

The 2014 study by The Lancet medical journal confirms the general knowledge about high levels of alcohol abuse in Ukraine, Russia, and other post-USSR countries, and put it as the top killer of Russian males: “Russian adults have extraordinarily high rates of premature death. Retrospective enquiries to the families of about 50 000 deceased Russians had found excess vodka use among those dying from external causes (accident, suicide, violence).” “By west European standards, Russian adults, particularly men, have a very high risk of premature death, which has fluctuated sharply in recent decades. At 2005 mortality rates, for example, only 7% of UK men but 37% of Russian men would die before the age of 55 years.”

The attitude towards alcohol differs strongly among Russian men and women (2013):

  • 52% of women believe alcohol to be a moral problem.
  • Only 36% of men support this view.

Violent attitudes in a conflict, where a person is expected to fight rather than seek a peaceful resolution or apply to the law enforcement, are also contributing to early deaths in males, while females are not supposed to participate in hands-on settlements.

Paired with minds clouded by vodka, this view on bravery causes multiple tragedies for all involved.

Accidents due to reflex impairment are also to blame. For example, the rescue services of Belarus attribute high mortality levels in accidents on water causing drownings to alcohol abuse.

The problem is known to governments, which tried to solve it in the past unsuccessfully, such as during Perestroika in 1986, when supply of alcohol and hours of trade were severely limited.

Russian and Ukrainian men have more liberal attitudes towards alcohol than women.

The restrictions caused multiple deaths due to people opting for drinking technical spirits and other unsuitable substances, rather than going without.

It is not unusual for Russian and Ukrainian women to seek divorce due to husband’s substance abuse (while doing it because of his cheating would be looked at with a surprise). The gender ratios are the constant complaint of women in post-Soviet countries, because they feel pressured to do anything in order to attract and keep a mate.

For example, if a husband is unfaithful, most people would put the blame on the wife, because she possibly didn’t look after herself, or wasn’t satisfying him sexually, or maybe didn’t provide him with a comfortable home, which drove him to seek pleasures elsewhere.

This is what a female member of EM wrote in a comment about Ashley Madison’s scandal:

“I think not many men get married to cheat on their wives after the wedding, this means, the problems are mutual, and there is the wife’s fault in the fact that her husband is cheating in a some extent. Maybe, she doesn’t look after herself, or doesn’t give him attention, doesn’t have sex with him or is not enthusiastic enough, works too much etc. Or maybe the man travels a lot for work, and he requires sex, because the wife is not next to him.”

Please note that it is an opinion expressed by a female, and not a male. Russian men would possibly put 100% of the blame on the wife, and not just partially. The opinion that men are some kind of animals who are unable to control their sexual instincts is supported by Russian media and the mainstream culture. The women are portrayed as peacemakers and gentle carers who have to take in consideration men’s nature.



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Carlos Cabrera
Have you noted that the mayority of countries with higher male population are located in the tropical (warm) areas of the world that have less variations in temperature during the whole year? While the higher female population countries are located more near the polar (cold) areas with more extreme temperature variations by season? I think that the explanation can be more orientated to climate influenced biology reasons (XX and XY cromosomes production in the sperm are influenced by temperature changes) rather than demographic issues. Does exist a russian statistics study about female vs male rate child births by month? I… Read more »

So True…Good Answer..

funny mention the cold being a factor. My friend was studying environmental science and its worth noting that the bpa in plastic,cell phones,power towers and such kill sperm. Mainly killing y chromosome sperm so less males born. In third world they have less of these estrogen mimicking compounds and technology that cause this. And yes there is sex selected abortion favoring male however when they grow up the dating game favors females since there are more men then women. Apperntly all countries favour males more even in the west however the gap is narrower compared to the east. @elena Id… Read more »

In our country, also being one of former USSR states, women number comparing to men was higher (52,8 % VS 41,2 %) up to 2000-ies. Then the statistic said, due to deliberate abortions (boys are more welcomed in the family), the proportion changed. Now, males are 49.8 %, women 50.2 %.

A lot of this comes from the fact that people do not think about the future. We say here in America that you have a lot of freedoms. While these are being eliminated, a lot are still here. But the thing that people forget is you have freedom of choice but NO freedom from consequence. You drink too much, this means your liver dies. This happens, you BETTER have a way to prove you will eliminate drinking, or you will not receive a transplant. In addition this “liquid courage” allows people to do absolutely crazy things. And normally, in times… Read more »
Hello Elena, As always your articles and insight are so welcome. Something about one of your comments really struck me. it is quoted below. “If a guy is single in Russia and he is over 30, he will have a queue of willing females (unless he is a drunk or a drug addict, which is another 2 species of single males that are a lost case). ” This is what I want to talk about. When I was in Russia on vacation, I did get my share of flirting with cute Russian girls. I was not able to really go… Read more »
Same as everywhere, women only outnumber men in Ukraine in the older age groups: Big difference versus the United States is that women start outnumbering men around age 35 in Ukraine. Whereas where I live (in the rural west of the US), women only outnumber men after age 70. As in the United States, women tend to congregate in big cities, whereas the rural areas tend to have more men, especially mining towns. So there is a huge surplus of single women in their 40’s (and even 30’s) in Kiev, but not necessarily in mining towns or areas of heavy… Read more »

If anyone considering what happen in Russia 70 years ago?

Legally 25 but historians now thinking 35 million people killed in Russia ww2 mostly man’s. That had serious impact on population growth. I know many lady’s didn’t had chance to get married and have kids bgs not many man’s at that time

Actually, the statistics is controversial and partly false. There’s no “shortage” of male population, there’s a same number of men in Ukraine and Russia, if they mean those aged below 35-50. It’s only afterwards when it becomes problematic for single women to find a man + mostly because lots of decent men are married and many women don’t want to date a divorced man or one who was never married. They are also picky and wish to get a rich man, but there’s actually a shortage of RICH single men either. Apart from these factors, there’s no much of problem… Read more »