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Reality of Ukraine - A Paradoxical Rich Poverty

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

Twelve centuries of disputed existence, division, and struggle.

The best way to evaluate others is to put ourselves in their shoes:

Many cultural behaviors we foreigners often do not understand or censure on Ukrainians behavior can be comprehended when analyzing the reality in which they were born and raised.

As an ex-pat in Ukrainian for the last 16 years, I still do not feel having the right to judge or disagree with being a welcomed privileged foreigner. But many so-called "wrong" behaviors or attitudes from Ukrainian people can be somehow comprehended and even excused when knowing the facts. And that is my aim here, to help you build an informed opinion.

How 41.5 million survive in a country with an 18.5 million workforce?

Based on official statistics, this post aims to help readers understand how historical, social-economic, and cultural circumstances shaped the country's way of life, mentality, and behaviors.

Throughout extreme social inequality, adverse demographics, insufficient social welfare (especially regarding single/divorced mothers), lack of well-paid qualified labor, and a legacy of centuries lived in turmoils until today.

Many cultural behaviors we foreigners often do not understand and censure about Ukrainian people behavior can be quite easily comprehended by analyzing statistics.

As an ex-pat in Ukrainian for the last 16 years, I still do not feel having the right to judge or disagree as a privileged foreigner. But many so-called "wrong" behaviors or attitudes from Ukrainian people can be somehow comprehended and even excused when knowing the facts.

Disclaimer: The data on this post is from official sources. (links) and my analysis and interpretation are personal and may not coincide or represent other's reality.

The conversion rate is UAH 27.15 per 1 USD as of today. (6/24/2021)

Facts found:

According to estimates from the Service of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, on February 1, 2021. (not accounting the population currently in the occupied territories)

A so-called electronic census found Ukraine's population has decreased by almost a quarter since 2001, driven by migration and death rates exceeding births with a ratio of 100 deaths per 38 births. In January 2021. the population decreased by 33.5 thousand people.

2,294 UAH/month - $84,5 from July 2021 till December 2021.

*The subsistence level is a valuation of the consumer basket that contains the minimum sets of food, non-food goods, and services necessary to maintain human health and ensure its viability. - "Good" news, as it looks, you "can" survive in Ukraine with 80 bucks per month.

11,1 million are pensioners (28.% of the total population)

What do they receive after 30/35 years of work? The actual official pension is 3,507,51 UAH. ($130)

- old-age pension 8,330,485 people (74.84% - 3538.97 UAH - $130)

- additional when per disability 1,478 882 people (13.29% - 2859.48 UAH - $105)

- from death of one of the spouses 641,033 people (5.76% - 3249.94 UAH - $120)

- public service employers 604,173 people (5,43% - 4763.29 UAH - $175)

- additional social pensions (orphans) 72,843 people (0.65% - 1786.06 UAH - $65)

- lifelong term pension of judges 3,538 people (0.03% - 67 961.39 UAH - $2,503)

Source: Number of pensioners and average pension in the first quarter of 2021 Men and women receive an additional +1% per extra year of work after 35 and 30, respectively.

You also may like to know that according to the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine from Feb. 3, 2021, "State social assistance is granted and paid to citizens of Ukraine, foreigners and stateless persons permanently residing in the territory of Ukraine."

According to the Law, a single mother is considered to be:

*a woman (who is not married), a single adoptive parent, if in the child's birth certificate there is no record of the father or the father's record is made on the instructions of the child's mother;

*a woman who is not married and has a child whose father has been deprived of parental rights or whose father has died (declared missing / declared dead).

*A single father by the Law is a father who is not married to the child's mother, whose paternity is specified in the child's birth certificate or recognized by a court decision.

Until not so long ago, many couples, though living a marital life, did not marry or registered the father on the childbirth certificate to benefit from State support.

Maternity - how much a mother receive per newborn child?

The aid is paid once of 10,320 hryvnias ($380), and the remaining amount is paid in equal installments over the next 36 months of 860 hryvnias/month ($31). Important to note that such monthly support can only cover 80% of the actual cost of a monthly supply of diapers for a baby between 6 - 10 Kgs. or 3 to 12 months of age.

According to the Law on the State Budget from July 1, 2021, the subsistence level is:

for a child under 6 years is 2,013 UAH ($74) per month.

for a child aged 6 to 18 years 2,510 UAH ($92) per month.

for a person aged 18 to 23 who is studying 2,379 ($87) UAH.

Child support - how much does a parent pay in Ukraine by Law?

From 01.01.2021 to 30.06.2021, the minimum guaranteed for one child may NOT be less than 50% of the subsistence minimum ($84,5) for a child of the appropriate age (Part 2 of Article 182 Family Code of Ukraine).

for a child up to 6 years is 960 UAH ($35) per month

for a child from 6 to 18 years is 1,197.50 UAH ($44) per month

Child support from divorced parents is actually a scourge. In many cases, as by default, couples live with parents, so when getting apart, mother and child may have to relocate to her parents now with the child burdening the family budget.

The State does not replace any of the divorced parent's responsibilities unless the faulty one proves insufficient income to pay child support. Only in such case, the State assumes supporting the child up to the amounts mentioned above. Pursuing the parent in court has costs and may take years despite the Law foreseen incarceration of the offender. No matter how bad he may be, who wants to put her child's father in prison?...

Salaries in Ukraine - how much people win in their professions?

According to the Government Portal, the average nominal wage in Ukraine in February 2021 increased to UAH 12,549 ($460) or 2 times higher than the official minimum salary of UAH 6,000 ($220).

The lowest recorded average nominal salary was UAH 6,979 ($255), recorded in April 2021 in the field of temporary accommodation and catering, UAH 10,678 ($391) in administrative and support services, and UAH 10,859 ($397) in the education sector.

Kyiv city recorded the highest salaries in February 2021 (UAH 18,504 - $677) and the lowest in the Kirovohrad region (UAH 9,903 - $362).

Which are the highest-paying careers in Ukraine?

In the realm of disparities

- Hairdresser around $550

- Cashier in a shop $366

- Cleaning lady $267

I suggest you visit, probably one of the most well-known job sites with over +100,000 diverse announcements and statistics about work in Ukraine. All referenced above can be found on as also Salary and Cost of Living Comparison at salaryexplorer.


Conclusions to take:

Once again, and in my personal opinion, placing ourselves in the Ukrainian people's shoes, honestly, I can only admire their determination and strength to survive an always constant state of disturbance, confusion, and uncertainty Ukraine constantly goes through since the 9th century and until today. (150+ conflicts within 12 centuries time spam. (see bottom post)

The number of Ukrainian population younger than 18 years is today at 7.5 million. That said, the pensioners and the youngest represent 19.3 million— practically half of the population. From the remaining 22,2 million, if deducting 3,2 million emigrants and 10% of the unemployed population (405.000), remains a working force of 18.5 million to sustain the second-largest country in Europe (by area 603,628 km2 - 233,062 sq mi), and the 46th in the world.

  1. Kievan Rus - 830s till 1435 fought 40 wars and lost 17

  2. Uprisings - 1591 till 1769 fought 14 wars and lost 7

  3. Cossack naval campaigns - 1602 till 1617 - fought 10 and won all

  4. Other conflicts - 1558 till 1775 - fought 19 and won 7

  5. Under Austrian and Russian empires - fought 48 and won 38 until WW1 starts 1914

  6. War of independence - fought 6 and lost 5

  7. As a part of the Soviet Union - (1922–1991 incl. WW2) - fought 30 and won 20

  8. Tajikistani Civil War (1992–1997) United Nations-sponsored

  9. Russian military intervention in Ukraine (2014–present)

Living in Ukraine, learning this people's legacy, and listening to reports from persons whose parents survived the 1932–33 famine in Ukraine killed 6 to 7 million Ukrainians by starvation.

Until today, we can see Ukrainian malformations due to radiation exposure when the Chernobyl accident happened 35 years ago, considered the worst nuclear disaster in history. Or not so long ago, the Euromaidan Revolution in 2014 I personally lived.

When interiorizing such a legacy and life events, Ukrainian people went through and still keep struggling. So many social and cultural factors that I cannot arrogantly blame anyone for now and then "wrong" or less polite attitudes being always surrounded with instability and uncertainty on tomorrow's day.

I doubt I would be a better person than Ukrainian if I had been born here under such adverse circumstances. Portuguese popular wisdom says: "Only those who live in the convent know how life is inside."

After 16 years here, I only can respect the Ukrainian people and how much they can stand to survive, and see hope in a future crowded with corruption and inequalities as swimming in a pool of sharks where surviving is an instinctive reaction more than quality, because there's no other option, unfortunately.


3 commentaires

Enjoyed reading it; a pity about the video at the top. A well-meant summary of Ukrainian history is spoiled by a bad translation. The English past tenses (surely important in a history) are all over the place. Present perfect and past simple confused throughout. How a native speaker can have read that without making corrections, I don't know. Irritating and confusing to say the least.


25 juin 2021

Sad about fertility rate, with that negative result, Ukraine will gone in a century. What happen with all those family orientated woman?

En réponse à

Most of them will have found themselves a foreign husband and emigrated to the US, UK, elsewhere in Europe, or, NEW, Turkey and the Arab countries. In short, anywhere where there is more money

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