Saturday, May 21, 2022

Moscow Cuts Projections of Population Growth in North Caucasus

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 7 – The Muslim republics of the North Caucasus have long been the site of the greatest population growth of any place in the Russian Federation, but in a sign that outmigration from there is accelerating and birthrates are falling relative to death rates, Moscow has reduced its projection for population growth there by 2030 by more than 100,000.

            Six months ago, Moscow projected that the population in the region would grow from 10 million to 10.5 million, but now it has reduced that the figure by 112,000 to 10.4 million overall. In short, the population of the region is still growing but at a rapidly decreasing rate (

            Close observers of the region says that this projection of smaller than earlier ones does not reflect the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic but rather a combination of two demographic factors. On the one hand, because of poverty, an ever-larger number of North Caucasians are leaving and going to other parts of Russia, most often to cities like Moscow.

            Outmigration is especially large from Daghestan; elsewhere, including Karachayevo-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria, it is smaller but involves people in prime-child bearing age groups and thus has an oversized impact on demographic trends.

            And on the other, birthrates, while still higher than those for the Russian Federation as a whole, have fallen significantly across the regon and now do not make up for the still high mortality rates. Indeed, Moscow officials say, by 2030, birthrates projected for Chechnya will not allow that republic to maintain its current population..

            There is another possible explanation for the unusual Moscow announcement: Preliminary census data may show that the population figures the republics have released have been artificially increased in order to extract more money from the center and Moscow is now using the census, the results of which have not been released, to correct them.

            That possibility was suggested earlier this year by Aleksey Raksha, formerly with Rosstat, who detailed just how much he is convinced the heads of the North Caucasus republics have exaggerated their populations. (On this, see

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