Staunton, April 16 – Russian and Western analysts in recent decades have typically pointed to the higher birthrates and lower consumption of alcohol among non-Russian nations within the borders of the Russian Federation to explain why these peoples have increased their share of the population of the country.
Earlier, these same analysts explained these increases by the dramatic reduction in infant morality among these peoples in Soviet times. But now as birthrates among the non-Russians are converging on ethnic Russian ones and alcohol consumption is rising in some of them, many commentators suggest the non-Russians won’t continue to increase their share of the population.
There are two reasons why such conclusions are wrong. On the one hand, the impact of earlier growth does not stop immediately but continues over several generations. Consequently, if non-Russian women have more children than Russian women in the first generation, they will have a greater percentage increase in the second even if the birthrate converges on the Russian.
And on the other, non-Russians enjoy certain other demographic advantages that reflect their often healthier style of life. Reports about two of these have just appeared. First, the health ministry has published a ranking of the regions and republics in terms of mortality (iz.ru/725368/elina-khetagurova/minzdrav-nazval-regiony-s-samoi-nizkoi-i-samoi-vysokoi-smertnostiu).
The federal subjects with the highest mortality rates from all causes are all in predominantly ethnic Russian areas, while those with the lowest are all in non-Russian republics. That means that it is not only birthrates which drive changes in the demographic balance but death rates as well.
And second, newly published figures concerning rates of HIV/AIDS infection show that all but one of the ten federal subjects with the highest rates are predominantly ethnic Russian oblasts and krays while most of the non-Russian republics are at the very bottom of this scale (sobkorr.ru/news/5ACFA8D21C3BF.html).