According to Duma deputy Oleg Shein, raising the pension age on those from outside the region while leaving it where it was for indigenous peoples will lead to an increase in the outflow of the latter from the region because many of those in this category become ill as they approach the existing pension age.
That will have a number of consequences, some potentially very serious. First, it will mean that the share of the population the indigenous population occupies in these regions will increase even more rapidly than it has over the last 30 years, leading their leaders to demand more for the non-Russian peoples involved.
(That trend may accelerate even more if as the experience of other countries applies: At least some Russians are likely to try to re-identify as non-Russians in the hopes of claiming the lower retirement age, much as some in the American West and in Alaska have sought to claim Indian heritage to gain access to resources and benefits.)
Second, it will mean that Russian extraction industries will find it ever more difficult to operate and that production of oil and gas along with other natural resources may fall far faster than otherwise, pleasing non-Russians who object to the devastation of their lands but hurting Moscow’s incomes.
And third, it almost certainly will spark conflicts between the indigenous peoples and the arrivals, mostly ethnic Russians, from outside, with the latter angry that Moscow is giving the non-Russians benefits it is not giving the Russians and the former newly energized because of their victory.
These may seem like small things given that the numerically small peoples of the North number fewer than two million people; but it is anything but. While they are small in number, their territories occupy nearly a third of the Russian Federation and are the locations of much of the country’s natural wealth. Problems there are thus problems for the entire country.