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How deep is Russia's demographic hole?
Deep enough for the Kremlin to warn of "problems of an insurmountable nature"
Russia recorded its fifth straight year of population decline in 2022. The country ended the year with 600,000 fewer people.
In 2021, at the height of the “pandemic”, Russia suffered a natural population of decline (when deaths exceed births) of over 1 million people—a record loss of life not seen since the Great Patriotic War.
The death rate has returned to its “normal level”, but there is little cause for celebration: The main driver behind Russia’s natural population decline is a record-low birth rate.
Nakanune.ru wrote on May 15:
In 2022, the death rate exceeded the birth rate by 600,000 people, and it will only get worse. Russia is steadily moving towards a “natural” loss of 1 million people annually.
The disappearance of the population at such a pace puts an end not only to any development of the country, but also threatens the very existence of the Russian state.
Why, with all the statements of the authorities about supporting the birth rate, it only falls—with no end in sight?
The death rate in Russia has already returned to its previous level—1.8 million people per year. But the birth rate, which in the mid-2010s reached 1.9 million, literally collapsed in a span of a few years—this year we can expect only 1.2 million births. That is, the reason for the new addition to demographic hole is a strong drop in the birth rate, and not mortality. […]
One of the reasons [for the demographic crisis] is infertility, the scale of which is only growing in Russia, which is again confirmed by statistics. About 15% of Russian couples are infertile. […]
However, the birth rate is still of no interest to the authorities. Just words—no deeds. Back in winter, it was said the authorities were developing some new measures to stimulate the birth rate. To do this, some surveys were conducted and various questions were studied.
In December, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said that until April 15, the regions would receive targeted recommendations to increase the birth rate.
Is that all the Government can do? Recommendations?
A prophetic article, because just a few days later the Kremlin offered some less-than-reassuring words about the worsening crisis.
Speaking to reporters on May 19, Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged ongoing “difficulties” with sustaining Russia’s population:
“Yes, indeed, demographics is where we are not yet successful. And for well-known and understandable reasons, we are now in a very difficult situation in terms of demographics,” Peskov said.
According to him, there is no “panacea or magic pill” in this matter. At the same time, there are problems of an insurmountable nature here—demographic holes that have haunted Russia throughout history.
What are these “well-known and understandable reasons” for Russia’s plunging population? Peskov explained:
“This demographic hole is associated with the Great Patriotic War, and with the nineties, when the country was collapsing and the birth rate fell … Now we are in the decade when these holes have connected, and this is our historical tail that haunts us,” he said.
No mention of the devastating consequences of neoliberal “healthcare optimization” (first carried out under the fearless leadership of a Bill Gates groupie), or the murderous decision to suspend routine medical care in order to “flatten the curve”.
No, the problem is that “two holes have connected” (source: Dmitry Peskov).
It’s the same feckless word salad every year. In 2017, Peskov pointed to “objective reasons” for Russia’s demographic troubles, but reassured everyone that the government was brainstorming a solution.
And the situation was actually better in 2017.
An incredible game of kick-the-can, with predictable results. Naturally, one has to ask what the endgame is.