Thursday, July 5, 2018

Five Important but Often Overlooked Demographic Developments in Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 4 – When Russians or others talk about demographic developments in Russia, they typically focus on global ones like the relationship of birthrates to death rates, overall growth or decline in the total population or changes in that country’s ethnic mix. But many of the most important demographic developments are elsewhere.

            This week alone and so far has featured reports about five of them:

            First, new research shows that younger workers are far less willing than older cohorts to move to the periphery of the country even for high wages or to work in raw materials extraction industries. As a result, Moscow faces a bottleneck in that key sector, one it is being forced to address by bringing in more Muslim migrants (

                Second, while the numbers are both small, more Russians moved to China in the first third of 2018 than moved to Germany, an indication of the reorientation of Russia toward the East but also a clear of the dynamism of the Chinese economy compared to the Russian (

            Third, debates about the government’s plan to raise the retirement age has led to calculations that the life expectancy of Russians once they reach 65 – in sharp contrast to the situation in other advanced countries – has changed little since 1917. (Life expectancy at birth the more common figure has gone up.) (

                Fourth, like his Soviet predecessors, Putin has celebrated what used to be called “hero mothers,” who have a large number of children. Recently, in a much ballyhooed event, he handed out awards to eight of them.  But a survey shows that his government has done little or nothing for most women with large families, something that will further depress the birthrate (

            And fifth, social media on the Internet are now playing a key role in bringing people together. It has risen dramatically as a factor both for traditional marriages and has become the dominant form for single-sex unions, responsible for more than 20 percent of the former and more than 70 percent of the latter (

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