Uzbekistan currently ranks 101st out of 191 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI).
The country's rapid population growth (2021: 2 per cent) is a significant challenge. About 45 of the approximately 36 million inhabitants are under 25, and 500,000 people enter the labour market every year. The economy is unable to keep pace with such rapid growth. This leads to problems in the areas of education and employment, which ultimately drive poverty.
In 2021, unemployment was at 7.2 per cent, and almost 16 per cent among youth and young adults according to official figures. However, experts believe unemployment rates to be much higher. One of the consequences of the poor employment prospects is high labour migration, particularly to Russia. In 2021, migrants sent home remittances totalling about 8 billion US Dollars, the equivalent of almost 12 per cent of Uzbekistan’s GDP.
Reforms in the education and health systems
The quality of healthcare in Uzbekistan has worsened since the country gained independence. The medical care infrastructure largely dates back to Soviet times, with outdated technical equipment and inefficient structures. People on low income and living in rural areas are especially affected by this.
The government of Uzbekistan sees the need to improve access to healthcare and create income and job opportunities. It wants to avoid a rift in society and drain public support for radical Islamists.
The government has, for instance, initiated reforms in order to modernise the entire education system (from pre-school to higher education and vocational training) and make the teaching profession more attractive. It is also investing heavily in public healthcare, with German support (see also: core area “Health, social protection and population policy”).