Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Five Demographic Problems Moscow Won’t Confront Honestly

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 24 – The Russian government and state-controlled media discuss only a small portion of Russia’s demographic problems and seldom do that entirely honestly because they are multiplying at a rate beyond the Kremlin’s willingness or ability to do something about (

             But this week brought a flurry of reports about five issues where the facts are very different from what the Putin regime typically claims and where the consequences of Russia’s future are potentially very great indeed. The five are:

·         Russian Roads are Killing People at an Alarming Rate.  Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says that Moscow is solving the country’s notorious problems with highways, but no one much believes him ( But not only are Russia’s roads in bad shape, but they are causing accidents that mean Russia with just over a quarter of the population of the EU suffering almost the same number of highway deaths (

·         Because of Super-High Adult Male Mortality, Russian Men Work Far Fewer Years than Do Men in Other Countries.  Vladimir Putin and the Russian authorities prefer to talk about their efforts to boost the birthrate rather than to do something about the super-high mortality rate among working age males, something that would certainly be far more costly and difficult. But a new Moscow study finds that as a result of excessive deaths among working-age Russian men, this cohort works on average far fewer total years than do workers in other economies. The study also makes clear that Russian women work nearly the same number of years as women elsewhere because they do not suffer from the same problems, often related to alcohol consumption, that plague men (

·         Incarceration Rates in Russia are Down, But More Children are Landing in Jail.  Moscow has taken great pride in pointing out that the number of people behind bars in that country has fallen by a third over the last decade (, but it has rarely been willing even to acknowledge that arrests among the very young are rising because of the spread of criminal subcultures like AUE that celebrate violating the law among school-age children (

·         Russian Brain Drain Running at Seven Times the Rate Moscow Acknowledges. Many commentators have long pointed to the fact that educated Russians are leaving the country to work elsewhere, but according to the latest reports, the number doing so is now seven times that which the government acknowledges ( What is especially depressing is that in contrast to the 1990s when the educational level of those coming to Russia was roughly the same as that of those leaving, today, the new arrivals are significantly less well-educated than those leaving, pushing the overall educational attainment level for the country as a whole down sharply, with obvious economic and political consequences already in evidence ( and

·         More than a Million Russians Live in Some Form of Slavery. According to the Walk Free Foundation, 1,050,000 Russians – seven tenths of one percent of the population -- currently are kept in some form of slavery. As a result, Russia ranks seventh in the world, the foundation says, in terms of the number of slaves ( and

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