The population of the Russian Federation is declining: over the past three years, the country has lost 2 million people more than usual. At the same time, the number of Russians born in April 2022 was no more than during the Nazi occupation.
A demographic tragedy is unfolding in Russia – over the past three years, as a result of wars, disease and emigration, the country has lost about 2 million people more than usual. The British newspaper The Economist writes about this in an article published on March 4.
The publication notes that the number of Russians born in April 2022 was no more than in the months of Nazi occupation. And because so many men of military age have died in the war in Ukraine or are in exile, women outnumber men by at least 10 million.
Causes of the demographic crisis in Russia
According to journalists, the war is not the only reason for the “demographic nightmare” in Russia, but it has significantly aggravated it.
Thus, according to Western experts, over the past year, 175,000-200,000 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded. Between 500,000 and 1 million young educated people escaped the meat grinder by going abroad. Even if Russia had no other demographic problems, losing so many people in such a short time would still be painful. But even without that, the losses of the war place an even greater burden on a declining, sick population.
The Economist writes that the roots of the crisis in Russia go back 30 years. The peak of the country’s population occurred in 1994 – 149 million people. Since then, the population has zigzagged in decline. In 2021, it was 145 million people (this figure, according to the UN, does not include the 2.4 million inhabitants of Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014 and included in its national accounts). According to UN forecasts, if current trends continue, this figure could reach only 120 million people in 50 years. This will make Russia the 15th largest country in the world, up from sixth in 1995.
According to Aleksey Raksha, an independent demographer who used to work for the state statistics office, if we consider only the peacetime years, the number of births registered in April 2022 was the lowest since the 18th century. April was a particularly brutal month, but it was a revealing look at a chronic problem.
According to the state statistics agency, in 2020 and 2021, the population of Russia decreased by 1.3 million people, and the number of deaths exceeded the number of births by 1.7 million people. The largest decline has been among ethnic Russians, whose numbers fell by 5.4 million in 2010-21, according to the 2021 census. Their share in the population decreased from 78% to 72%.
This all started before the war and reflects the horrific covid pandemic in Russia. The official death toll from the disease was 388,091, but journalists estimate the total death toll in 2020-23 to be between 1.2 million and 1.6 million. This is comparable to China and the US, which have much larger populations. Russia may have had the highest number of covid deaths in the world after India and the highest death rate of any country at 850-1,100 deaths per 100,000 people.
If we add the mortality from the pandemic to the losses from the war and from mobilization, then Russia will lose from 1.9 to 2.8 million people in 2020-23 on top of the usual demographic deterioration.
According to the publication, the demographic crisis may interfere with plans to increase the size of the Russian Armed Forces by 350,000 people over the next three years.
Recall, on March 3, it was reported that Russia held an online referendum for the independence of five republics at once. At least 5.6 million people took part in it.
Earlier, on February 23, the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, Kirill Budanov, said that Russia would soon be forced to withdraw its troops from the territory of Ukraine, otherwise this would quickly lead to the collapse of the Russian regime.
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