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Why Russia is dying out

Why Russia is dying out

The demographic crisis in russia has become so severe that the kremlin has banned state-controlled media from reporting on the significant decline in the birth rate in russia. 

The kremlin’s panic did not arise out of nowhere. Despite the government’s appeal to family values and the 4 trillion ruble national project “Demography,” the birth rate in russia continues to decline. Thus, the relative fertility rate in 2023 (8.5 children per 1,000 people) was the second worst result in the country’s modern history after the 1999 figures (8.3 children per 1,000 people). In June 2023, less children were born in russia than in any other June since 1991. As a result of natural losses last year, the population decreased by almost 600 thousand people, in 5 months of 2023 – another 236.7 thousand, and over the past 5 years – 2.9 million. The biggest problems with the birth rate are recorded in the volga region and in the south of russia.

What is behind the demographic catastrophe in russia?

Firstly, the drop in the birth rate in the country is due to the western reaction to putin’s aggressive policy. Sanctions restrictions have led to a drop in revenues from gas and oil exports and other export products that formed the state budget of the russian federation. This has significantly reduced the standard of living of russians and, accordingly, the motivation to have children. As a result, almost 45% of families in russia are childless, and 65% of families with children have only one child.

Secondly, the kremlin’s intervention in the events of 2014 in Ukraine and the full-scale invasion in February 2022 fundamentally changed the attitude of russians towards family reproduction. It was after 2014 that the birth rate began to fall in russia. Thus, in 2018, 17.5% fewer children were born in russia than in 2014, and the difference between births and deaths from 2020 to 2022 was more than 2 million people. Another factor is the emigration of that part of russian society (mainly young people in active reproductive age) that negatively perceived the beginning of “smo” and fled from mobilization. In 2022, russia experienced two spikes in male emigration – immediately after the start of the invasion of Ukraine and after the announcement of mobilization on September 21. According to demographers, in 2022, approximately 600-800 thousand people left russia, which is 5% of all russian men aged 20 to 40.

Thirdly, the “washing out” of men from the production cycle has led to an increased involvement of women in the workforce at the defense industry enterprises of the russian federation. The transition of the defense industry to a three-shift operation, along with women’s lack of confidence in economic stability and protection from the gradual transfer of hostilities to russian territory, completely eliminate the incentive to start a family and have a child. The decline in the birth rate is also due to the reduction in the total number of women of childbearing age in russia, and the lack of adequate funding for kindergartens and healthcare facilities. Moreover, the russian ministry of finance plans to cut spending on maternity capital by at least 356 billion rubles and reduce spending on parental benefits.

In order to somehow remedy the situation, the kremlin authorities are considering various options, which are mostly recognized as ineffective. 

Thus, the state duma has supported an initiative to restrict the sale of abortifacients and ban abortions in private clinics. Federation council spokeswoman v. matvienko called for young people from cities to move to rural areas to increase the birth rate. The “Fair russia – for truth” faction has drafted a bill that would oblige advertisers to show only large families in commercials and billboards, which has already drawn a flurry of criticism for being false and cheap agitprop. Other proposals from the state duma include sending children on tours for a few days so that parents can increase their fertility while they are away.

The most exotic idea was presented at the valdai club ( which putin frequently visits) by a researcher at the Institute of economic forecasting of the RAS, d. poletayev, who suggested that to stimulate the birth rate, refugees from Africa should be allowed into russia.

What should russia expect next?

According to experts, the demographic crisis in russia will continue to worsen, and the proposed measures will not radically change the situation. By 2030, the number of women of childbearing age between 30 and 39 in russia will decrease by almost 34% to 7.9 million. The ban on abortions in private clinics and the attempt to develop a pre-abortion counseling program in public clinics will fail. As a result, out of 245,000 women who wished to have an abortion, only 54,000 refused to have one. Sending tens of thousands of men to the front and killing them in the war will inevitably lead to a further deterioration in the demographic situation, and the birth rate in russia will decrease by another 5-10%. In addition, the demographic picture in russia will have a negative impact on the potential GDP growth rate and the budget’s ability to finance the war in Ukraine.

  • 27 July, 2023

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