Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Immigrants, Currently Russia’s Only Source of Population Growth, Declining in Number, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 28 – Immigration is now “the only source of population growth” in Russia, and the numbers of immigrants are falling, according to data in the latest monitoring report prepared by the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service (

            In 2017, net immigration amounted to 211,900 people, the smallest number of this category since 2010.  And now that Russians are again experiencing fewer births than deaths, that means the population of the country will grow only slowly at best and may in fact decline in the coming years if immigration falls further.

            Given the Kremlin’s obsession about size and its extensive rather than intensive approach to economic development, that trend has serious consequences for the economy, society and the political system as well, given the role immigrants play in all three spheres and the money the Russian regional governments take in from selling permission to immigrants.

              Ukrainians continue to form the largest share of immigrants, but their numbers declined sharply between 2016 when 118,800 immigrated and 2017 when only 47,700 did, a decline responsible for much of the fall off the report focused on.  CIS countries and especially the Central Asian ones continued to dominate, providing more than 90 percent of the total.

            Migrants continue to move to the major cities and their environs, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Krasnodar kray.  They have played an especially large role in boosting the population of the second capital, where migrants formed 92 percent of the population increase in 2017, 44 percent more than a year earlier.

            Temporary migration into Russia has also declined, although the numbers officially registered in this category have not fallen as much. Most foreign workers in Russia are as before “citizens of the countries of Central Asia, whose share of all foreign migrant workers has been increasing, with all-too-obvious social consequences. 

            Up to now, the report says, Russia’s regional governments have not seen a decline in income from the sale of patents which immigrant workers are required to have. Indeed, there has been an increase in their income from this source over the last three years but only because officials have worked harder to enforce the law and have raised prices as well.

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