Vladimir Putin keeps repeating it: the demographic crisis is, in Russia, “A historic challenge”. “We have entered a bad demographic period”, warned the head of the Kremlin, assuring: “The fate of Russia and its historical prospects depend on how many we will be. “
With nearly 147 million inhabitants, the largest country in the world has certainly recovered since the 2000s, when it had 143 million inhabitants. But it remains below the 149 million recorded in 1991, at the end of the USSR.
And the Russian population is on the decline again, as the generation born in the first post-Soviet years, marked by a drop in birth rates, is reaching childbearing age. It could fall from four to twelve million inhabitants by 2035, according to the most pessimistic forecasts.
The Kremlin is ambitious
Moscow regularly announces new measures to boost the birth rate. Among them, the extension of the financial assistance program for parents from the first child, new allowances for families in difficulty with children from 3 to 7 years old and free school canteen … The Kremlin intends to raise the rate fertility rate from 1.5 children per woman today to 1.7 by 2024. But the effectiveness of this program remains to be proven.
The pandemic has also caused a sharp decline in migration: with the economic crisis, thousands of workers from the former republics of Central Asia have left, and the net influx of migrants has fallen almost 2.5 times more this year than ‘in 2019. According to the latest statistics, the population fell by 277,800 people between January and August 2020, to 146.5 million. A fall five times greater than that of the same period in 2019 (52,500).
A lagging life expectancy
Especially since the recent “demographic hole” could reveal excess mortality due to Covid, which the authorities are suspected of minimizing. According to the press analysis of death statistics published on November 6, Russia recorded nearly 120,000 excess deaths instead of the official 30,000 deaths attributed to the pandemic.
With, in addition, a life expectancy lagging behind, far from European standards – 78 years for women and 68 years for men – Russia is accumulating “demographic penalties”, from which it will have a hard time getting out.