Staunton, Aug. 18 – Even though the final results of the most recent Russian census have not been published, enough data are now available to crosscheck some of the figures; and what this process shows is that the population of both many individual federal subjects and the country as a whole may be significantly overstated, Aleksey Raksha says.
The independent Russian demographer makes that observation in the course of a discussion of birthrates in Bashkortostan, a Middle Volga republic whose population is declining and likely has declined far more than officials either in Ufa or Moscow are admitting (ng.ru/economics/2022-08-18/1_8517_children.html).
Bashkir officials are committed to keeping the republic’s reported population above four million, he says; but it is almost a certainty that to do that they are counting many people who have left the republic for other parts of Russia where they are likely being counted as well, leading to overcounting for those regions and for Russia as a whole.
“Many young people today leave Bashkortostan for neighboring Tatarstan or to Moscow, Yekaterinburg or Tyumen oblast,” Raksha says. “However in the official statistics, this outflow is not reflected completely, as a result of which the official number of the population is elevated.” The latest census “not only hasn’t corrected this” but acts as if this isn’t happening.
This has an impact on how officials evaluate birthrates. If the official population is kept artificially high, the same number of births makes the birthrate look low. That is what has happened in Bashkortostan, the demographer says; and such a mistake has encouraged officials there to promote false narratives about why the population is falling.
It is not because of the work of groups like ChildFree or inadequate assistance to families which have children. Instead, it is in many cases the product of local boosterism which allows officials to claim they have more residents than they do but leads them to make false conclusions about birthrates and other matters.