Friday, October 8, 2021

Russian Life Expectancy by End of 2021 Likely to Be Where It was in 1964, Raksha Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 4 – Because of the pandemic and continuing super-high mortality among working-age men, life expectancies by the end of this year are likely to be lower than 70, the same level the RSFSR achieved in 1964, the last year of Nikita Khrushchev’s reign, Aleksey Raksha says.

            The independent Russian demographer says that when Moscow achieved that level in 1964, it considered this to be a triumph. But subsequently, as a result of greater alcohol consumption, Russian life expectancy fell for almost 40 years, with a brief uptick only during Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign (

            Moscow tried to avoid calling attention to this decline and did not publish the statistics needed to track it, Raksha says. It adopted that strategy because it did not want to call attention to the fact that while the advanced countries of the West were all experiencing increases in life expectancy, Russia was suffering a decline.

            Over the last 15 years, the situation had improved with life expectancy rising to 73.34 years in 2019; but the onset of the pandemic and its growing death toll put reversed that trend. By the end of 2020, the Russian figure was only 71.54 years. This year, Raksha says, there are likely to be even more premature deaths.

            AS a result, by the end of 2021, he says, “mortality will be higher than it was last year, and life expectancy will see a further decline.” In 2020, there were approximately 360,000 excess deaths, but in this year, Russia is on track to suffer more than half a million, with 400,000 already having died.

            This situation is deteriorating in all regions without exception, Raksha says; but “the most serious problems are to be found in Saratov Oblast, Bashkortostan, Ulyanovsk, Samara, Voronezh, Lipetsk, Belgorod and Orenburg Oblasts,” where the number of excess deaths and especially excess deaths from the coronavirus are especially high.

            Demographic estimates like these are one of the reasons why some in the Russian Academy of Sciences say that the Russian population coud decline by as much as 12 million people by 2036, a fall of not quite a million a year over the next 14 years (

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