More news about Russia’s demographic collapse

Excerpt from “Demography and development in Russia“, UN Development Program (28 April 2008) – Excerpt:

Demographic development in Russia that to a large extent has much in common with the European one is characterized by the following trends:

1. It is already for forty years that fertility in Russia cannot provide for the simple replacement of its population; mortality in men of working age is as high as it was a century ago.

2. Beginning from 1992, mortality in Russia has consistently exceeded fertility: the loss of population has amounted to approximately 12 mln individuals and was partially compensated for by 5.5 mln due to migration gains.

3. Should current reproductive trends (low fertility and high mortality) remain, they could lead to a nationwide population of 125-135 mln by early 2025 and as low as 100 mln by 2050.

4. The age and gender structure of the population has been severely distorted, which has and will have negative effects on reproduction.

5. The ageing of the population is continuing, as a result of which the size of the working-age population will fall by up to 1 mln annually already by 2020-25, thus raising the dependent load to 670-  750 and 900-1000 by 2050, which will negatively influence economic growth rates. This will inevitably lead to increasing the retirement age in the near future.

According to the preliminary data for 2007, the number of births increased and mortality went down. But this doesn’t change a principal evaluation of the situation: a favorable trend may continue for another 5-6 years, and then the loss will start to grow.  At the moment, there are no grounds to believe that the crisis will be overcome and the size of the population will be stabilized or that the goal of the state to raise the size of population to 145 mln persons will be reached.

… Russia is one of the few countries in the world where life expectancy has decreased in comparison to 1960s levels. Russia is behind developed countries in terms of life expectancy by 15-19 years for men and 7-12 years for women.

The Russian phenomenon of hypermortality comes to be observed primarily in working-age populations: compared to the majority of countries that have similar level of economic development, mortality in Russia is 3-5 times higher for men and twice as high for women.

Please share your comments by posting below. Brief! Stay on topic! Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling). 

Other posts on this topic

Another front in the geopolitical struggles shaping our world  (3 June 2008)

“The Return of Patriarchy“ – a classic article about demography   (5 June 2008)

For a wide range of studies and articles see the new archive of major reports about demographic change.

8 thoughts on “More news about Russia’s demographic collapse”

  1. Ralph Hitchens

    Interesting that this trend, which began well back in the Soviet era, continues even after recovery from the economic debacle of the 1990s. When I worked for Army Intelligence back in the mid-80s we were studying this issue, met with Murray Feshbach a few times.

    Fabius Maximus replies: Thank you for this backgrounder!

    These trends are long-standing. The famous sci-fi author Robert Heinline visited Moscow in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s, and from simple observations noted that they were not replacing themselves.

  2. Ralph — the question is, how much has Russia recovered from the neo-liberal-induced “economic debacle” of 90’s?. Emmanuel Todd, a French demographer, predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union over 20 years ago. He also predicted the end of the American “empire” five years ago in his book “After Empire”. It’s a good read.

  3. What population do you think will fill the space?
    Fabius Maximus replies: That is the question! We can foresee the population crash, but its effects remain a mystery!

  4. The demographic crisis in Russia can be traced all the way back to the horrendous losses of the ‘Great Patriotic War’ and the terror campaigns preceding it, which combined killed 40-50m, mostly young men. Since then, world class levels alcohol and tobacco consumption combined with a collapsing public health system since the late 1980’s have exacerbated the population deficit; a looming drug related AIDS crisis will make things even worse. Japan is in similarly poor shape as I’ve written on in my blog; China has the demographic structure of an advanced Europen country, and will see new labour force entrants halve by 2020. Demographics will be national destiny in coming years as never before…

  5. Gunnar Heinsohn says it is the age stucture that determines expansionism.

    Russia might be losing a lot of retired or older low skilled men but what would they be contributing to national power or prosperity? If anything these “loses” are those who have “outlived the usefulness of their lives” ( as the Count says in El Cid).

    Don’t understand conclusion (4) the men who are dying are over 45, Nobody fathers a child at this age, how could it make a difference demographicaly.

    The UN thinks everybody needs to be educated about their all purpose panacea — migration “gains”
    Fabius Maximus replies: These are two distinct demographic trends at work in Russia.

    First, the collapse in fertility common to most developed nations (e.g., Japan, Europe). Russia has one of the lowest, which unless changed will result in a massive population crash over the next 3 generations.

    Second, a unique collapse in male lifespans.

    The combination probably will be unpleasant for them.

  6. Thanks Fabius Maximus, I was getting a bit mixed up there

    I read that a Russian girl had a hit song a few years back, the lyrics went: “I want a man like Putin – someone who won’t beat me up or run away”. Maybe men over 45 are in demand in Russia.

    Three generations from now though who in the West ( apart from the US) will be in good shape from native fertility, Spain is said to be the worst.

    According to Heinsohn Romania is the first country in the world where there are more retirees than native workers as does Bulgaria which has the worlds fastest dwindling population. He thinks the only hope is to attract qualified immigrants but all these countries have no appeal for them nor does Russia. Dying states are getting membership of the EU which will to pay for their pensions. This may turn out to be the real imperial overstretch: EU enlargement. The EU has a bullfrog mentality, it’s concentrating on adding millions who will need supporting all the while believing thatit is getting more soft power.

    Poland is down to 1.2 children per woman and they have lost 2 million of their best people in 15 years, Russian’s can’t leave so easily so the Russian state might have a rather pleasant time compared to some other countries; they have got rapidly appreciating energy assets.
    Fabius Maximus replies: We propably are going to 400 million people — due to immigration. Note the interesting evolution of the zero population growth movement. Originally hostile to immigration until (from memeory, this date c/b wrong) the early 1980’s. Then they went dark on the issue, like other leftist groups.

    On the other hand — The fertility collapse in most developed nations — esp. Japan, southern and eastern Europe, and Russia — could lead to massive population drops over the next 3 generations. Unless they allow massive immigration. Or, afterwards, they might be unable to stop it (those lands will not remain underpopulated unless they find some military means to prevent immigration).

    There is no historical experience for population declines other than war or plague. We are in unknown territory in this, as in so many things.

    You might find of interest some of the articles listed here — Demography – an archive of resources (one of the FM reference pages).

  7. The demography archive is excellent, thanks for providing it.

    Reading about Zero Population Growth’s Paul R. Erlich and his bet with Julian Simon, Wiki says that Ehrlich failed to take the priciple of substitution (eg ceramics for tungsten) into account. Maybe the demographic future will be one of substitution rather than decline.

  8. Pingback: A diplomatic solution in the Ukraine – Top Words of Wisdom

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: