Streetwise Professor

October 31, 2007

Less-Bad News

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:23 am

Never let it be said that I only emphasize the negative re Russia. Recent Russian government statistics show that the Russian population is continuing to shrink, but not as rapidly because the death rate is beginning to improve (H/T Johnson’s Russia List):

October 23, 2007
FEWER AND FEWER
The population of Russia keeps shrinking
Author: Irina Sklyarova

[Russia’s natural population decrease was lower in the first three quarters of 2007 than in the same period of 2006: 356,000 people against 493,000. The first three quarters of 2007 saw 1.045 million births, 1.4 million deaths, 771,000 marriages, and 450,000 divorces.]

Russia’s population is still shrinking. Not even the influx of immigrants (traditional for summer) is alleviating the situation.
The death rate exceeds the birth rate. Still, the mortality rate seems to be slowing down, judging by the report on the socioeconomic situation for the first three quarters of 2007, as compiled and published by the Federal State Statistics Committee (RosStat).

According to the report, Russia’s population stood at 142 million on September 1 (down by 196,000 people, or 0.14%, since
January 1). The influx of immigrants compensated for only 45% of losses. Natural population growth was logged in 18 Russian regions.

Traffic accidents killed 24,000 people, and 29,000 took their own lives. Nearly 14,000 died of alcohol poisoning. All these
figures are below the last year parameters.

Russia’s natural population decrease was lower in the first three quarters of 2007 than in the same period of 2006: 356,000 people against 493,000. The first three quarters of 2007 saw 1.045 million births, 1.4 million deaths, 771,000 marriages, and 450,000 divorces.

I have noted several times that as ill as the low Russian birth rate bodes for the country’s future, the more dangerous problem is the stratospheric death rate, especially among men. The downtick in the mortality rate is therefore encouraging news, though the motor accident, suicide, and alcohol poisoning rates are still appalling.

This article from the WSJ states that the decline in the ethnic Russian population is around 1 million per year. Assuming that this reflects 2006 statistics, given the total decline in the population in the RF of about 500,000, this translates into an increase of about 500,000 non-ethnic Russians from immigration and from higher birth rates in non-ethnic Russian populations. The WSJ article conjectures that this dynamic will aggravate ethnic tensions within Russia:

Meanwhile, the number of Muslims in Russia, from the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East, is surging through immigration and high birth rates. The response of many Russians is racist nationalism, in many cases encouraged by the state. The respected human rights group Memorial has linked Kremlin-supported youth group Nashi, which runs summer camps where white, Orthodox, ethnic Russians are encouraged to breed, to numerous hate crimes.

As ethnic and religious minorities become majorities in a number of key neighborhoods, districts and towns, a counter-nationalist backlash brews. President Putin and his possible successors know this, and the strengthening of central power is part of a bid to prevent the biggest potential combustion of all: the Balkanization of Russia’s over 160 ethnic groups. Yet their clamp down could also exacerbate the tension. Local government restrictions, limiting the number of Muslim vendors at outdoor markets, for example, only serve to deepen minority frustration. Such an explosion in Eurasia would have profound implications for U.S. and European energy security, transnational crime and migration flows across the continent, not to mention the fate of Russia’s poorly secured stockpiles of nuclear materials.

Dunno exactly whether this is the way it will play out, but it definitely deserves watching.

Print Friendly

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress