Staunton, June 3 – It is now common ground among demographers that the size of the Russian workforce is currently declining by roughly a million a year and will do so for the next several decades, and it is recognized the falling birthrates are reducing the size of the population as a whole and making it more difficult for Moscow to meet its draft quotas.
What is less widely appreciated is the impact this demographic decline is having on key institutions like schools and higher educational institutions. The number of pupils in schools has fallen by more than 20 percent since Vladimir Putin became president; and the number of students in higher educational institutions by even more (lenta.ru/news/2018/06/02/yama/).
That has the potential to save the government money in the short term, but it has very serious negative consequences over the longer term because it means that there will be fewer new entrants to the workforce with the most contemporary training, thus imposing yet another drag on any economic modernization effort.
According to the authors of a new government report, “over the last 17 years (from 2000 through the 2017/2018 academic year), the number of school pupils has fallen by more than 21.7 percent. They add that the number of students in higher educational institutions fell by “more than 40 percent” sine 2009 (government.ru/news/32737/).
In reporting these figures, the Lenta news agency quoted the observation of Yury Krupnov of the Moscow Institute of Demography, Migration, and Regional Development that in the coming years, “Russia faces a deeper demographic whole than even the one it was confronted by in the 1990s.”