Why Russia’s Population Decline Has Reached Its All-Time High

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As officials blame the coronavirus for the rising death rate, Russians’ growing reluctance to have children has exacerbated the crisis.

For the first time in the history of modern Russia, the natural population decline reached 1.04 million people.

Although the Russian government points to the pandemic as a cause of the declining population, experts say the trend started long before the health crisis hit the world.

Rising retirement age, quality of medical care in the region, declining standard of living and many other challenges that Russians face are some of the reasons why the country is facing a demographic decline for the fourth consecutive year.

During this period, the number of residents of the country decreased by 1.4 million people, according to data from the Federal Statistical Service (Rosstat).

Migrants, the glimmer of hope

We speak of natural population decline when the number of deaths exceeds the number of births. Russian Federal Statistical Service Rosstat checked in that over the past year, mortality in the country has increased by 15.1% (to 2.44 million people) in one fell swoop, and the birth rate has fallen by 2.3% (to 1.4 million people).

The number of births, despite all the support measures, is the lowest figure since 2002. As a result, the population has decreased by 693,000 people and stood at 145.478 million on January 1, 2022.

The previous maximum natural population decline in Russia was noted in 2000. Then it was 958.5 thousand people. In 2020, Rosstat reported that the population decline was 702,000, twice as much as the previous year, without a pandemic, and everyone was appalled even then.

The data published by the agency does not contain statistics on the migration flow, although it has considerably improved the situation. In 2021, net international migration to Russia increased 3.3 times – almost up to 350,000 people (compared to 106,500 in 2020). Russian media giant RBC Remarks that this increase is the result of an increasing number of people arriving in Russia, in particular from the independent States of the Community, including Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, and at the cost of fewer departures from the country.

Mikhail Denisenko, Director of the Vishnevsky Institute of Demography at the Higher School of Economics of the National Research University (HSE University), Explain that two factors may have caused the growth of migration to Russia.

First, restrictions on international travel have been partially lifted, including the entry of migrant workers. Second, migrants have their length of stay in the country extended, and if their length of stay exceeds nine months, they move from the temporary category to the permanent category. But once again: the exponential growth in the balance of incoming and outgoing migrants is hardly a consequence of deep socio-economic reasons.

It is very likely that this is “an adaptation of administrative rules to the pandemic”, underlines Professor Irina Kalabikhina, head of the population department of the Faculty of Economics at Moscow State University. .

Russia’s rapidly shrinking population has become a concern for many people in the country, but the government blames it on the Covid-19 pandemic. (AFP)

How the coronavirus has impacted Russia

Experts believe that Russia’s high level of population decline is mainly due to the pandemic – either as a direct cause or as an accompanying disease.

“Covid-19 is not a joke, not the ‘flu’, the losses are quite severe,” Professor Kalabikhina told RBC.

Demographer Denisenko is convinced that the coronavirus pandemic contributes 60-65% to the natural decline. However, this statistic does not correspond to reality.

The absolute record of mortality among people infected with Covid-19 was recorded in Russia in November 2021. At that time, 87,500 people died from the coronavirus and its consequences. In December, the disease was the main cause of death for 54.6 thousand people, and a total of 215.5 thousand people is dead this month.

Taking into account past data from Rosstat, Covid-19 took life of 517,800 Russians for the whole of 2021. This is 3.2 times more than the previous year. A total of 681,100 people have died in Russia since the start of the pandemic in which the coronavirus was considered the main or concomitant cause of death, according to data from Rosstat.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, who previously valued an 81% increase in deaths from Covid-19 and its effects, noted the other day that excluding excess deaths from coronavirus, mortality in the country over the past year decreased by 1.02%. She said deaths from diseases of the circulatory system fell by 1%, those from neoplasms by 3.7%, those from HIV by 8.5%, those from tuberculosis by 8.9%. and those due to diseases of the endocrine system. eating disorders and metabolic disorders fell by 14.6%. Could it be because all the forces of medicine are now concentrated on a single disease? And others, due to the limited capacity of specialists, are less likely to be diagnosed?

Fatal Reform

However, some officials insist that the death rate from coronavirus is even higher than the official one, because the statistics do not include, for example, people with chronic diseases who were cured, but died some time later due to complications.

In general, authorities at different levels often justify their mistakes or inaction by using Covid-19 as an excuse to manipulate people. Although it is impossible to minimize the severity of this disease, there are other factors that have seriously influenced the grim statistics.

For example, pension reform. “It kills slowly but surely”, said the “SVPressa” in the pre-Covid era, and they also predicted“Life expectancy will start to fall in proportion to the increase in the retirement age.”

Extending the working age to 63 for women and 65 for men will certainly reduce life expectancy in the near future, experts predicted in 2019.

Political observer Dmitry Galkin explained: “Workers of pre-retirement age will take even less care of their health because it is now very easy for them to lose their job and very difficult to find a new one. In addition, people engaged in physical labor work longer hours, so the likelihood of them developing dangerous chronic diseases due to general wear and tear on the body will increase significantly. »

Russians themselves complained to journalists: “I will definitely die in the workplace, because I simply won’t have the strength to work, but I will have to work anyway. Otherwise, there will be no salary, no pension.

“The pinch of pennies forces people to buy cheap products that destroy and undermine the body, leading to the emergence of many serious diseases, including cancer!

Even before the pandemic, Credit Suisse economists, much to the convenience of government officials, were sound the alarm: an aging population is becoming a problem for the whole world, not just for developed countries.

Without reforms and faster growth in labor productivity, the growth rate of the global economy could slow down and people’s well-being could decline, which will certainly affect their health.

Russia apparently tried to solve this problem at the expense of pensioners. But they did not take into account, or did not want to take into account, the fact that the life expectancy of Russians is often less than retirement age. Thus, in a third of the regions, men not live long enough to get their deserved rest.

Independent demographer Alexei Raksha believes that Russia has the worst mortality situation compared to any country in the world with a similar level of income and economic development. For example, by the level of “cumulative mortality”, Russia ranks fourth out of more than 40 European countries.

Source: World TRT

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