POPULATION DECREASES

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POPULATION OF RUSSIA KEEPS DECREASING BUT THE AUTHORITIES PROMISE TO AMELIORATE THIS SITUATION

The powers-that-be promise improvement of the demographic situation before long.


Researchers and specialists dismiss as vain the Kremlin’s hopes for an adequate demographic policy that will stabilize the population at 145 million. Last autumn, the UN predicted a fall of the population of Russia to 107 million by 2050. Yesterday, Population Reference Bureau (PRB) suggested that reduction of the population would stop at 110.1 million by 2050.

The PRB estimate and report are based on current demographic trends. In 2008, there were 12 births and 15 deaths in Russia per every 1,000 individuals. “Unless something is done to change the existing birth and death rates, the population of Russia will be down to 129.3 million by 2025 and to 110.1 million by 2050,” the report concluded. The population will undergo a 22% drop by 2050.

By and large, these estimates concur with the conclusions drawn by UN specialists last year when they said that the population of Russia would be down to 107 million by 2050.

The Russian authorities meanwhile are considerably more optimistic. The Ministry of Health Care and Social Development hopes to stabilize the population at 145 million in 2025 and keep it there. These days, the population of the Russian Federation is under 142 million. The authorities pin their hopes on support of the birth rate and longer lifespans within the framework of the so called national projects.

Yevgeny Gontmakher, Assistant Director of the Institute of Global Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, perceived no stimuli for this expected stabilization. He said that the continued decline was more likely and that it would soon start making additional problems for the national economy. “The number of pensioners will keep going up and that of able-bodied citizens will keep going down. The economy will experience a dramatic shortage of the latter before long,” Gontmakher said.

The specialist suggested an improvement of labor productivity through modernization of economy as the only solution to this problem. “Nothing has been done in terms of this modernization over the last ten years or so,” Gontmakher shrugged. “Unfortunately, there are no guarantees even now that the authorities intend to initiate this modernization.”

One would think that the decreasing population will facilitate better living standards because the GDP has to be distributed among fewer recipients. Aleksei Shevyakov, Director of the Institute of Socioeconomic Problems of the Population, is nevertheless convinced that the powers-that-be will fail to do away with impoverishment in Russia by 2050. “Distribution mechanisms in Russia are such that only about 20% Russians boast of the income at the level of the middle class or higher. There can be no solutions to the demographic problems as long as so few Russians can afford proper tenements… and as long as the medical system in the country remains obsolete.”

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