Recently released statistical information by the State Committee of the Russian Federation on Statistics provides an interesting update on recent population trends in this country (Russian Statistical Bulletin, Social and Economic Trends in Russia in 2000, January 2001). In contrast to some other CIS countries such as Kazakhstan and Ukraine, which suffered declines of 8 and 5 percent, respectively, over the last decade, Russia’s population fell only 2 percent between 1989 and 2000. From its post-independence peak of 148.3 million in 1992, Russia’s population fell by only 2 percent to 144.8 million in 2000.
The modest decline over this period is in great part due to an influx of Slavic immigrants from other former Soviet republics. In 2000 alone, net immigration ran over 200,000 people. Russia’s expanding economy and higher wages are attracting workers from poorer CIS countries. The generally pessimistic view of Russian demographic trends stems from very low fertility rates. Although live births rose 3.7 percent in 2000, the number of deaths rose 4.1 percent. More important, the number of deaths exceeded the number of births by 75 percent last year.
Although these figures are retrospective in nature, they do illustrate trends in Russia. What is interesting is that higher wages and, more recently, faster economic growth in Russia appears to have attracted enough immigrants to brake some of the more dire predictions about Russian demographic trends. In a recent publication, Murray Feshbach of Georgetown University projects that the Russian population is likely to decline by over 30 percent by 2050 (Feshbach, Russia’s Physical and Social Infrastructure: Implications for Future Development, December 2000). The trends of the last decade suggest that the outlook may not be as bleak as Feshbach suggests.
…BUT POPULATION TRENDS IN OTHER CIS COUNTRIES ARE WORSE.