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Post by Mark Donalds on Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:29 pm

There are 143.5 million people in Russia. The population of Russia peaked at 148,689,000 in 1991, just before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Low birth rates and abnormally high death rates caused Russia's population to decline at a 0.5% annual rate, or about 750,000 to 800,000 people per year from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. The UN warned in 2005 that Russia's then population of about 143 million could fall by a third by 2050, if trends did not improve.[14][15]

The Russian state statistics service Rosstat had more optimistic forecasts in 2009, whose Medium variant predicted that Russia's population would only fall to 139 million by 2030[16] (Low: 127 million; High: 147 million). Furthermore, in 2008 one demographic analyst (correctly) predicted a resumption in population growth by 2010, and of natural population growth by 2013.[17]

The number of Russians living in poverty has decreased by 50% since the economic crisis following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the improving economy had a positive impact on the country's low birth rate. The latter rose from its lowest point of 8.27 births per 1000 people in 1999 to 12.6 per 1000 in 2010. Likewise, the fertility rate rose from its lowest point of 1.16 in 1999 to 1.54 in 2009. 2007 marked the highest growth in birth rates that the country had seen in 25 years, and 2009 marked the highest total birth rate since 1991.[18]

While the Russian birth rate is comparable to that of other developed countries, its death rate is much higher, especially among working-age males due to a comparatively high rate of fatalities caused by heart disease and other external causes such as accidents. The Russian death rate in 2010 was 14.3 per 1000 citizens. For comparison, the US[19] death rate in 2009 was 8.4 per 1000 .

Demographic crisis and recovery prospects[edit]

Further information: Russian Cross

The causes for this sharp increase in mortality are widely debated. According to a 2009 report by The Lancet,[20] a British medical journal, mass privatization, an element of the economic-reform package nicknamed shock therapy, clearly correlates with higher mortality rates. The report argues that advocates of economic reforms ignored the human cost of the policies they were promoting, such as unemployment and human suffering, leading to an early death. These conclusions were criticized by The Economist.[21] A WHO press-release in 2000, on the other hand, reported widespread alcohol abuse in Russia being used as the most common explanation of higher men's mortality.[22]

A 2009 study blamed alcohol for more than half the deaths (52%) among Russians aged 15 to 54 in the '90s. For the same demographic, this compares to 4% of deaths for the rest of the world. The study claimed alcohol consumption in mid-90s in Russia averaged 10.5 litres, and was based on personal interviews conducted in three Siberian industrial cities, Barnaul, Biysk and Omsk.[23]

According to the Russian demographic publication Demoscope,[24] the rising male death rate was a long-term trend from 1960 to 2005. The only significant reversion of the trend was caused by Mikhail Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign, but its effect was only temporary. According to the publication, the sharp rise of death rates in the early 1990s was caused by the exhaustion of the effect of the anti-alcohol campaign, while the market reforms were only of secondary importance. The authors also claimed the Lancet's study is flawed because it used the 1985 death rate as the base, while that was in fact the very maximum of the effect of the anti-alcohol campaign.[24]

Other factors contributing to the collapse, along with the economic problems, include the dying off of a relatively large cohort of people born between 1925 and 1940 (between the Russian Civil War and World War II), when Russian birth rates were very high, along with, ironically enough, an "echo boom" in the 1980s that may have satisfied the demand of women for children, leading to a subsequent drop in birth rates.

In 2006, the Minister of Health Mikhail Zurabov and Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Health Protection Nikolai Gerasimenko proposed reinstating the Soviet-era tax on childlessness, which ended in 1992.[25] So far, it has not been reinstated.[25]

Government measures to halt the demographic crisis was a key subject of Vladimir Putin's 2006 state of the nation address.[26] As a result, a national programme was developed with the goal to reverse the trend by 2020. Soon after, a study published in 2007 showed that the rate of population decrease had begun to slow: if the net decrease from January to August 2006 was 408,200 people, it was 196,600 in the same period in 2007. The death rate accounted for 357,000 of these, which is 137,000 less than in 2006.[27]

At the same time period in 2007, there were just over one million births in Russia (981,600 in 2006), whilst deaths decreased from 1,475,000 to 1,402,300. In all, the number of deaths exceeded the number of births by 1.3 times, down from 1.5 in 2006. 18 of the 83 provinces showed a natural growth of population (in 2006: 16). The Russian Ministry of Economic Development expressed hope that by 2020 the population would stabilize at 138–139 million, and by 2025, to increase again to its present day status of 143–145, also raising the life expectancy to 75 years.[27]

The natural population decline continued to slow through 2008—2012 due to declining death rates and increasing birth rates. In 2009 the population saw yearly growth for the first time in 15 years.[7][8] In September 2009, the Ministry of Health and Social Development reported that Russia recorded natural population growth for the first time in 15 years, with 1,000 more births than deaths in August.[28] In April 2011 the Russian Prime Minister (Russian president as of 2012) Vladimir Putin pledged to spend the 1.5 trillion rubles (£32.5 billion or $54 billion) on various measures to boost Russia's declining birthrate by 30 per cent in the next four years.[29]

In 2012, the birth rate increased again. Russia recorded 1,896,263 births, the highest number since 1990, and even exceeding annual births during the period 1967–1969, with a TFR of about 1.7, the highest since 1991. (Source: Vital statistics table below). The number of births is expected to fall over the next few years as women born during the baby bust in the 1990s enter their prime childbearing years, but this would not have an effect on the TFR.


In 2006, in a bid to compensate for the country's demographic decline, the Russian government started simplifying immigration laws and launched a state program "for providing assistance to voluntary immigration of ethnic Russians from former Soviet republics".[30] In August 2012, as the country saw its first demographic growth since the 1990s, President Putin declared that Russia's population could reach 146 million by 2025, mainly as a result of immigration.[31]

There are an estimated 4 million illegal immigrants from the ex-Soviet states in Russia.[32] In 2012, the Russian Federal Security Service's Border Service stated there had been an increase in illegal migration from the Middle East and Southeast Asia.[33] Under legal changes made in 2012, illegal immigrants who are caught will be banned from reentering the country for 10 years.[34][35][36]

In recent years most Immigrants have came from Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This has resulted in Ethnic Tension. Every year 300,000 Immigrants arrive in Russia of which almost half are Ethnic Russians. In the 1990s Immigration was the main reason Russia didn't suffer substantial population decline. It reached a peak of 1,200,000 in 1994 mostly Ethnic Russians from ex-Soviet states fleeing from social, economic or political reasons such as the civil war in Tajikistan from 1992– 1997. It has been noted that in the Far East a number of Mongols and Chinese Immigrate for work. The problem has become so severe it has caused a rise in Russian nationalism, and spawned groups like Movement Against Illegal Immigration.

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