Population Research and Policy Review 17: 71–89, 1998.
1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Rural/urban differentials in demographic processes:
The Central Asian states
The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, USA
Abstract. While the populations of the Central Asian successor states are extremely hetero-
geneous on many indicators, the issue of rural or urban residence is consistently important in
terms of differentials in population growth, socio-economic status and public health. In this
paper I focus on rural population trends in Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbek-
istan and Tajikistan. I explore the relatively disadvantaged position of rural inhabitants as well
as regional variations within the rural population. The differentials in fertility and mortality
rates and the large projected population increases indicate that future policy interventions and
data collection efforts should incorporate a speciﬁc focus on rural areas.
Key words: Fertility, Mortality, Aging, Central Asia
Urban bias is an often cited characteristic of state socialist regimes. Ideologi-
callyfocusedon workersand economicallyfocused onindustry, theseregimes
have tended to generate systems that concentrate social goods in urban areas.
Not surprisingly, the successor states of the former Soviet empire have inher-
ited economic systems that place rural areas at a relative disadvantage. While
the populations of the Central Asian successor states are extremely heteroge-
neous on many indicators, the issue of rural or urban residence is consistently
important in terms of differentials in population growth, socioeconomicstatus
and public health. In this paper I focus on rural population trends in Kazak-
stan, Kyrghyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, exploring the
relatively disadvantaged position of rural inhabitants and regional variations
within the rural population.
As seeninFigure1, as of 1990 Kazakstanwas the only countryof the region
with a majority of its population in urban areas (67.4%). The populations
of the remaining countries primarily live in rural areas, with the highest
concentrations observed in thesouthernadministrativeregions (oblasts). Two-
thirds of the total population of Tajikistan is resident in rural areas, while
nearly three-fourths of the population of Tajikistan’s southern regions are