Streetwise Professor

April 28, 2009

DR (or is it S-O?) on Russian Demographics

Filed under: Economics,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:20 pm

I’ve written a little on Russian demographics in the past, usually drawing a retort from DR/Sublime Oblivion.  DR (Anatoly Karlin) has written a long piece where he takes issue with the conventional wisdom that Russia is a dying nation in a downward demographic spiral.    I’m not a demographer, so I can’t present a professional demographer’s review, but I am a social scientist, so can make a few reasoned points on DR’s analysis.

First, overall, what DR has written is a useful summary that emphasizes some things that deserve consideration.  Reading it has raised some questions in my mind about the conventional wisdom (which I am always somewhat skeptical about, being especially dubious of consensus science.)  The analysis of fertility is more thorough, and more convincing than that of mortality, by far, and does provide some reason to believe that the exceedingly black portrayal of Russian birth trends is overdone.  

Second, that said, I come away mostly unconvinced.  That is, I think that although DR’s argument that the pessimism is overdone is supportable, it’s a long way from there to any real optimism about Russia’s demographic future, especially in light of the economic crisis.

A few key points:

  • A good deal of DR’s analysis involves pointing out that compared to European and Japanese fertility, Russia doesn’t look that bad.  Well, since it is well understood that European and Japanese fertility are pretty appalling, that’s very cold comfort indeed.  DR says “Russia is becoming part of the rest of Europe with respect to ideas about ideal family size.”  That’s the good news?  The European example is hardly worth emulation.
  • Even by these comparisons, Russia doesn’t do that well.  The total fertility rate is at the bottom of the list of countries included in his figures.  Ditto for net female reproduction.  (His discussion of NFR below the graph is very hard to follow, and doesn’t seem to match up with the evidence in the graph.)
  • What DR touts as the most accurate measure of long term fertility, the average birth sequence (ABS) does not provide tremendous evidence that a corner has been turned, as DR suggests.  The measure showed little variation, and certainly no systematic improvement in the post-1998 period.  There is a noticeable uptick in 2007.  But one year doth not a trend make.  Especially given that underlying circumstances have changed dramatically for the worse in late-2008 and 2009.  I also note that there is no comparison between this measure in Russia and other countries, whereas there is such a comparison for the other measures of fertility.  This raises questions in my mind.  Why compare TFR and NFR across countries, but not ABS?  
  • Not surprising to those who have read DR’s comments here on SWP, his treatment of Russia’s appalling adult male mortality is cavalier, not to say amoral.  “Excessive mortality also disproportionately affects poorer, badly-educated people.”  “It is true that poor health lowers productivity, although by curbing aging it also relieves pressure on pensions.”  Gee, I thought the reason for pensions was so that people could live good lives into old age.  That is, pensions are for people, but DR seems to argue that people are for pensions.  
  • These facts remain: (a) if people die at greater rates than they are born, population will decline; (b) Russian death rates are so much higher than the corresponding rates in Europe, Japan, the US and Canada that the “productivity effect” is large (gliding over whether the value of lives should be measured by production); (c) early death, poverty, and lack of education are all affected by individual choices, and nations in which far larger numbers of individuals choose behaviors that increase their odds of dying young and poor must be providing perverse incentives for people to engage in those behaviors–unless DR wants to make some cultural/racial based argument that it’s something inherently Russian.
  • DR has to squint very hard to put Russian infant mortality of 8.5/1000 “close to developed world standards of 3-7/1000.”  The latter is a very wide range, and the Russian rate is still 20 percent above the highest of that range. It would also be worthwhile to present statistics on mortality before 5, rates of abandonment/orphaning/fostering.  
  • DR asserts that high male death rates have “little direct effects on fertility” because “men don’t reproduce.”  This is a very reductive analysis that elevates a biological fact into a demographic conclusion, thereby ignoring economic aspects of fertility.  Women’s decisions to have children will depend in large part on their assessment of their future life prospects.  A large risk that the father of their children will die prematurely, often of a behavioral choice that also tends to reduce earning potential, will affect decisions to marry, and decisions about fertility, and not for the better.  Maybe DR is right, and playing Russian husband roulette doesn’t affect fertility.  But it is only an unsupported assertion/hypothesis.  He would be better served by investigating that hypothesis, or presenting evidence in support of it.  

DR’s main basis for demographic optimism is based on a hopeful interpretation of survey evidence, and a projection of economic optimism about Russia’s future.  In a nutshell, he argues that survey evidence shows that Russians would  desire, under optimal economic circumstances, to have about 2.5 children per family.  Actual birth rates have been lower, due to seriously suboptimal economic circumstances. But “after a long period of disillusionment, at the end of 2006 more people began to believe that Russia was moving in a positive than in a negative direction.”  Economic circumstances are improving, and are expected to improve further.  As a result (although DR caveats this linkage between the 2007 uptick in TFR/ABS and renewed optimism), it can be expected that Russian fertility will rise as economic conditions will allow the closing of the gap between actual and desired family size.  This will lead to an avoidance of demographic implosion.

Perhaps.  But.  

This is a conclusion based essentially on one year’s increase in TFR and ABS.  Again, one year doth not a trend make.  I would emphasize that the ABS numbers DR reports show no trend at all during the period of time when the Russian economy was growing rapidly.  It declined even in 2006.  In 2007 it did rise sharply.  That is a very weak basis for a conclusion that improved economic circumstances will lead to substantial fertility changes.  

But again.

DR dismisses the possibility that the current economic crisis will undermine this budding confidence, and slow or reverse the 2007 uptick.  Although he acknowledges that the 2008-2009 collapse was sharper than the 1998 one, he takes comfort in the fact that “both state and society have much bigger surpluses to fall back on during the lean times.  As a result, the probability that the crisis will have a significant longterm effect on Russian fertility is extremely low.”

Again an assertion, and a highly dubious one.  The state surplus is being exhausted rapidly.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Kudrin.  Moreover, the surplus is being used to support current consumption and social programs, not to mention the military, and desperately needed long term investments in things like infrastructure are being slashed.  This will not provide the foundation for robust, organic growth not driven by resource rents.  

More tellingly, the crisis is still in its very early stages.  Unemployment is rising rapidly.  Importantly, individual incomes and wages are falling rapidly after years of rather heady growth.  There is an appreciable probability that, as Kudrin himself states, that the economic malaise will be severe and protracted.  This would not be favorable for continued improvements in fertility.

Regardless, the crisis gives the lie to the very narrative of stability and a boundless future upon to which DR attributes the turning of the demographic corner in 2006-2007.  Not to go all Gary Becker on you, but viewing childbearing as an investment, and recognizing that people tend to defer investment when uncertainty rises dramatically, I think it is overoptimistic of DR to dismiss so blithely the potential impact of the economic crisis on fertility (and on mortality, for that matter).  Even if Kudrin’s forecast is unduly gloomy, people will now know that economic risk has not gone away, and even in good economic times, things can turn bad with a vengeance.  We’re certainly learning that in the US.  Given the much more tenuous basis of optimism in Russia, and its tumultuous social, economic, and political history, it would be understandable if the crisis has long term effects on fertility through (a) the persistence of the crisis itself, and (b) its effect on Russians’ perceptions of economic risk.

These are hypotheses, I grant.  But that’s all DR can really offer in support of his optimism.  Put differently, he has a story, and one data point (2007) to support it.  That does not make an extremely convincing case.  

That’s why I’m not convinced.  Plausible economic scenarios–arguably more plausible than DR’s rosy one–the recognition of the possibility that 2007 may be an outlier, rather than a harbinger of a sea change in behavior, and a more thorough analysis of the economic underpinnings of fertility continue to make me far more skeptical of Russia’s demographic future.  

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  1. […] more here: DR (or is it S-O?) on Russian Demographics Bookmark […]

    Pingback by DR (or is it S-O?) on Russian Demographics « MyPage Builder — April 28, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

  2. 1. To be clear. The main issue I am addressing is the idea that bad Russian demographic trends will doom it to geopolitical irrelevance. Not issues of public health or social justice or “morality”.

    2. The reason I focused mainly on fertility was twofold. First, Russia Blog – an impartial, objective and patriotic American institution devoted to fostering greater understanding between the US and Russia – asked me to focus more on that. Second, as I pointed out mortality is nowhere near as important as fertility for making demographic projections, in Russia’s case the fact that mortality schedules become so bad at middle age simply brings forwards in time developments that would occur anyway but with a time lag.

    3. ” Well, since it is well understood that European and Japanese fertility are pretty appalling, that’s very cold comfort indeed.”

    That depends on which Europe you’re talking about. As I believe I said, the Med, Germania and Japan are indeed in a pickle. Britannia and Scandinavia are much healthier in that respect, and France now has a TFR that is about the same as that of the US.

    4. “DR says “Russia is becoming part of the rest of Europe with respect to ideas about ideal family size.” That’s the good news?”

    Erm, Eberstadt says that – I was quoting him to criticize, not to support!! And re-ideas on ideal family size, Russia is in the same category as aforementioned Britain / Scandinavia / France.

    5. Even by these comparisons, Russia doesn’t do that well. The total fertility rate is at the bottom of the list of countries included in his figures.

    Those figures end at 2006, and don’t include the 2006-2008 jump which took its TRF past the EU average.

    6. “Ditto for net female reproduction. (His discussion of NFR below the graph is very hard to follow, and doesn’t seem to match up with the evidence in the graph.)”

    The point I was making there was that, e.g., Germany’s NFR has been in the 0.6-0.8 range since around 1972 – already more than one generation, so fairly big natural population decline for it is now unavoidable. Russia has been in the demographic hole since 1992, with concrete trends to improvement since 2006 (for now discounting the issue of whether it was sustainable), which gives more scope for a possible recovery.

    Second, from the TFR growth you can see there was a major demographic transition from 1925-1945, and its post-war baby boom was not as pronounced as those of countries like the US or Western Germany. The high crude mortality rates we’re now seeing is partially the effect of that generation dying off. (There was a similar effect in the 1970’s and 1980’s for Germany, when its TFR collapsed and its last high-fertility era cohort, those from 1900-1914, died away).

    7. “What DR touts as the most accurate measure of long term fertility, the average birth sequence (ABS) does not provide tremendous evidence that a corner has been turned, as DR suggests. The measure showed little variation, and certainly no systematic improvement in the post-1998 period.”

    The main point is that the ABS has consistently been at 1.6 during 1993-2006 – the collapse years. First, it reinforces the point that fertility expectations fell by much less than the overall TFR and proves support for the thesis that its fertility collapse was a “transition shock” rather than a “values shift”. Second, the fact that there was so much birth postponement in the post-Soviet period means that there is a lot of pent-up desire to have more children – typically, couples who now have one child but want a second.

    8. “Why compare TFR and NFR across countries, but not ABS?”

    That would be a good idea, although ABS figures are pretty hard to hunt down. I suspect there’d be a similar pattern in Ukraine, the Baltic countries, etc.

    9. “Not surprising to those who have read DR’s comments here on SWP, his treatment of Russia’s appalling adult male mortality is cavalier, not to say amoral.”

    Not a serious argument, and quite tiring and banal besides. Do you go to bed weeping over the 200 / 1000 infant mortality rate in Afghanistan?

    10. “Gee, I thought the reason for pensions was so that people could live good lives into old age. That is, pensions are for people, but DR seems to argue that people are for pensions.”

    See 1).

    11. “(b) Russian death rates are so much higher than the corresponding rates in Europe, Japan, the US and Canada that the “productivity effect” is large (gliding over whether the value of lives should be measured by production); (c) early death, poverty, and lack of education are all affected by individual choices,”

    I’ve addressed all these points in the essay. Speculate whoever you want, but Russia’s tertiary enrollment ratio is one of the highest in the world.

    12. “DR has to squint very hard to put Russian infant mortality of 8.5/1000 “close to developed world standards of 3-7/1000.” The latter is a very wide range, and the Russian rate is still 20 percent above the highest of that range. It would also be worthwhile to present statistics on mortality before 5, rates of abandonment/orphaning/fostering. ”

    We are specifically concerned about the effects of early mortality amongst females which will negatively affect the value of the replacement level TFR. In this sense, 8.5 / 1000, and even 18.5, is statistically insignificant.

    Eberstadt raised this issue with me as well. Most births in Russia take place when the mother is under 30, and some quick calculations show that as of 2006 only 3.1% of women failed to live to that age (and 5.5% failed to live to 40). Not significant.

    Rates of abandonment/orphaning/fostering are a) extremely hard to measure or to make cross-country comparisons with and b) not at all directly related to the issue.

    13. “This is a very reductive analysis that elevates a biological fact into a demographic conclusion, thereby ignoring economic aspects of fertility. Women’s decisions to have children will depend in large part on their assessment of their future life prospects. A large risk that the father of their children will die prematurely, often of a behavioral choice that also tends to reduce earning potential, will affect decisions to marry, and decisions about fertility, and not for the better.”

    This is a valid point and I agree this affects family formation, etc. Nonetheless Russia has had a mortality crisis since the 1970’s, and this didn’t prevent it from maintaining relatively health demographics until after the Soviet collapse.

    14. The base for my projections is small and shaky? To an extent, I agree – though as I argued above, so are many of the pessimistic “refutations”. I certainly don’t believe my forecasts are certain for up till 2025, and I explicitly state they will almost certainly be wrong for after 2025.

    “First, demography is an inherently difficult thing to predict – especially its key component, fertility, which depends on a myriad of economic, social and cultural factors whose relations to each other are still little-understood. Second, though demography is a powerful trend it is frequently superseded by social, political and technological developments. Third, and consequently, the deterministic concept that “demography is destiny”, relying as it does by necessity on the fallacy of linear extrapolation, is of very limited utility in forecasting the fates of nations.”

    One more thing. I should also point out that a nation that remained locked in illiberal anarchy, Ukraine, on the surface shows much fewer signs of fundamental demographic recovery, despite a similar demographic profile to Russia – although I admit I haven’t looked at it in full detail. Perhaps an idea for a future avenue of research – the noxious effects of color revolutions on a nation’s precious bodily fluids? ;)

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — April 28, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

  3. “In a nutshell, he argues that survey evidence shows that Russians would desire, under optimal economic circumstances, to have about 2.5 children per family. Actual birth rates have been lower, due to seriously suboptimal economic circumstances”

    Many Russians themselves make this excuse, but in fact, it is not true. I have been living in a few different Russian cities for the past almost 15 years. Almost all Russian families have only one child at the most, even the wealthy ones

    They have their one kid to experience this aspect of life. But after that, why bother to have another? they say.

    Neighborhood Russian kids are always calling our home to play with one of my own 4 children. They long for brothers or sisters and ask their parents for a sibling for a birthday present. To their parents, (usually relatively well-off financially) this request is out of the question.

    It’s no different than in western Europe though.

    The reason for low birth rates is easy to figure out: It’s due to the modern phenomena of western-style affluence, birth control, urbanization, and strong social safety nets, and of course feminism. These have all led to the lowering of birth rates in all Western and modern societies.

    Until these factors change, birth rates won’t.

    Comment by Ray — April 29, 2009 @ 2:23 am

  4. It’s a pity you seem to have missed my blog’s recent post on this subject:

    http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/editorial-the-incredible-shrinking-country/

    If you had read it, you would have seen that RUSSIAN demographer Anatoly Vishnevsky, someone who unlike DR/SO/AK (that’s just plain weird) is actually qualified to write about this subject, and has done so for the United Nations, has just published a report concluding that Russian racism is a serious threat to national survivial because it scares off immigrants who might offset the population decline.

    In a 2005 report, Vishnevsky revealed that under “pessimistic” projections Russia’s population would fall from 146 million in 2000 to just 92 million by 2100 — a loss of 54 million people or 37% of the population. Moderate projections put the loss at 45 million, optimistic ones at 34 million. In other words, Russia’s very best case scenario had it losing nearly a quarter of its population within a century.

    Those are the only facts that matter. The crazy rationalizations of Russia’s psychotic nationalist defenders cannot “explain” the loss of 34 million people, an accomplishment Hitler never dreamed of. They can only help defuse the push for reform and regime change, and therefore devastate Russia far worse than any foreign enemy might do.

    These are Russia’s real enemies.

    Comment by La Russophobe — April 29, 2009 @ 5:59 am

  5. This is a quote from a Russian demographer at a conference held in Russia that sums up Russian demographics: Russia is plagued by European birth rates and African death rates. This of course leads to a rapidly shrinking population.

    True, the 50-year-old who dies of cardiac arrest may already have had children, but this ignores the social and economic consequences:

    1. A factory or business may now have one less experienced employee. This hurts production and forces the company to rely on less experienced and quite often less highly trained personnel. In other words, high mortality rates for men hurts industrial production, and this in turn hurts the Russian economy, which leaves Russia poorer which in turn leads to fewer women having children…. Tajik guest workers are useful for doing manual labor in construction, but won’t be much help replacing the engineers and specialized workers in factories producing tanks and planes and the mythical nanotechnology. It is called a positive feedback loop that reinforces Russia’s falling population.

    2. A family is left without a father or a husband (I am using the masculine as men have much lower life expectancies than women). This means one less salary that will hurt the entire family. In other words, he may have had children, but his children are more likely to suffer as well as his widow. This may mean that a young son or daughter won’t be able to buy an apartment without the help of a father and in turn will either put off having children or having a second child. Thus, though the 50-year-old man dying two or three decades earlier than he would in the rest of the G7 may not have changed the number of children he had, it may have a negative impact on the number of grandchildren that he may have….

    As for the 2007 uptick, I will have to look up an article that I read a couple months ago demonstrating that abortions went up drastically with the start of the crisis. In other words, whatever uptick existed in 2007 was wiped out in 2008 and is unlikely to recover in 2009.

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — April 29, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  6. I found the article: http://deti.mail.ru/beremennosty_i_rody/newsabort. Published in February of this year, it notes an increasing number of abortions noting that it is expected that 100,000 to 200,000 fewer children will be born next year, and that this is worse than the all in births in 1999 following the 1998 default!

    Again, SWP, you were right in saying that one year does not make a trend and the evidence coming out of Russia shows that there will be a dramatic fall in births in Russia in 2009 and 2010, though I am sure that Da Russophile believes that some form of economic miracle will sweep across Russia that will allow both the economy and birth rates to recover.

    Here is the article in Russian:

    На фоне кризиса возросло число абортовВерсия для печати

    К концу 2009 года Россию ожидает резкий спад рождаемости. Основной причиной тому служит финансовый кризис и, как следствие, увеличившееся число абортов. Медики бьют тревогу: такого наплыва женщин, решивших прервать беременность, не было уже 10 лет, со времен дефолта 1998 года. Статистика того периода была катастрофической – демографические последствия дефолта привели к тому, что в 1999 году число новорожденных детей почти на 70 тысяч меньше, чем годом ранее.

    В качестве главной причины для прерывания беременности женщины называют экономические трудности. У одних ипотека, у других кредит, третьих сократили. На аборт решаются даже те, кто планировал ребенка.

    С 1 января 2009 года государство разрешило гасить ипотечные кредиты с помощью материнского капитала, но это пока удается единицам. С одной стороны – повышают возрастной ценз для участников программ по поддержке молодым семьям, с другой – в некоторых регионах заговорили о возможных задержках выплат детских пособий.

    По прогнозам экспертов, уже в следующем году в России родится на 100-200 тысяч детей меньше, чем в нынешнем. Также они утверждают, что сократить число абортов при сложившейся экономической ситуации можно лишь пойдя наперекор демографической политике государства, объясняя людям, что не следует заводить детей, пока нет уверенности в собственном будущем.

    «Снижение рождаемости мы увидим через 7-8 месяцев, – говорят сотрудники Центра экологии и демографии человека, – и переломить эту тенденцию получится не раньше, чем через 7-10 лет. По крайней мере, окончательно демографические последствия кризиса 1998 года были преодолены лишь к 2006 году».

    Comment by Michel — April 29, 2009 @ 10:25 am

  7. Michel–

    In my haste in responding to DR’s piece, I forgot to mention the abortion issue. Indeed, quite important.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 29, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

  8. Michel you and your fine Russian language skills are truly the bane of the insane Russophile. I can just picture them ripping out their hair! It’s almost like you were put on earth just to drive them out of their “minds”. Bolshoe spasibo tebe dorogoi! Molodets!

    Comment by La Russophobe — April 29, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  9. Yes, the most chilling line in that article for Da Russophile and other who believe that birth rates are improving: “На аборт решаются даже те, кто планировал ребенка.” Translation: “Even women who had planned to their pregnancy are deciding to go for an abortion.” Simply put, these are not simply women who had an unexpected pregnancy, but women who wanted a child, deliberately got pregnant, and changed their minds because of the crisis. That is a demographic nightmare, and even Da Russophile won’t be able to spin this in a positive light (though I am sure he will try ;)).

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — April 29, 2009 @ 1:21 pm

  10. First, for anyone interested – http://www.russiablog.org/2009/04/russias_fertility_future.php

    @Michel/SWP,

    Re-recent effects of abortion.

    “As for the 2007 uptick, I will have to look up an article that I read a couple months ago demonstrating that abortions went up drastically with the start of the crisis. In other words, whatever uptick existed in 2007 was wiped out in 2008 and is unlikely to recover in 2009.”

    You are, quite simply, wrong.

    Number of births by year:
    2006 – 1479,6
    2007 – 1610,1
    2008 – 1717,5 (273,7 in Jan-Feb)
    2009 – ? (270,8 in Jan-Feb)

    So there was an uptick in a) 2007 AND 2008 and b) nothing was wiped out in 2008 and c) the figures so far indicate stagnation rather than collapse.

    That said, I actually agree with you that fertility is likely to decline through 2009, and probably 2010 – in fact, I imlicitly predicted as much.

    From December 7
    “All vital demographic statistics, with the exception of the total fertility rate, improve during this period – the expanding social safety net checks mortality increases, but the confidence crisis temporarily dents the former.”

    An incidental point, but significant nonetheless, is that despite the crisis, mortality has continued falling quite rapidly, decreasing by 5% in Jan-Feb of this year as compared with 2008. And unlike fertility it shouldn’t have a time lag.

    Now let’s go to your article, Michel:

    The article says that after the 1998 default, there were 70,000 fewer births. That’s true, but ignores the fact that there was an almost full recovery in 2000.

    1998 1283292
    1999 1214689
    2000 1266800

    Now even in the extreme case the births fall by 200,000 in 2009 – which I would stop to note would still be marginally above the level of 2006 – those anonymous quoted experts have absolutely no grounds for saying it would 7-10 years to get a recovery with such a degree of certainty, which simply doesn’t exist in demography.

    Re-Russia has European birth rates and African death rates point

    1. As I pointed out, the death rate only becomes “African” amongst groups of people with marginal contributions to fertility pattrns.

    2. Again as I pointed out, the death rate is most “African” for manual laborers and uneducated folks. I can assure you they most certainly would be working on nanotechnology projects.

    3. “A family is left without a father or a husband (I am using the masculine as men have much lower life expectancies than women). This means one less salary that will hurt the entire family.”…that is, as I said in my previous reply here, a valid point, but ignores the fact that the RSFSR maintained respectable fertility rates despite the fact the mortality crisis became noticeable as early as the 1970’s.

    @Loserdope,

    “It’s a pity you seem to have missed my blog’s recent post on this subject:”

    Not at all.

    “If you had read it, you would have seen that RUSSIAN demographer Anatoly Vishnevsky”

    I’ve critiqued Vishnevsky in the comments to this post – http://www.sublimeoblivion.com/2008/12/31/new-year-update-russophile-predictions/

    “someone who unlike DR/SO/AK (that’s just plain weird) is actually qualified to write about this subject”

    People can judge how qualified I am, or not, by what I write. And speaking of which, what are your qualifications for writing on Russia? Pray tell.

    “In a 2005 report, Vishnevsky revealed that under “pessimistic” projections Russia’s population would fall from 146 million in 2000 to just 92 million by 2100 — a loss of 54 million people or 37% of the population…Russia’s very best case scenario had it losing nearly a quarter of its population within a century.”

    Centennial forecasts are absolutely meaningless, for reasons I explained in the article. Just study the history of UN projections for global population in 2050 (let alone 2010) just within the last thirty years.

    “Those are the only facts that matter. The crazy rationalizations of Russia’s psychotic nationalist defenders cannot “explain” the loss of 34 million people, an accomplishment Hitler never dreamed of.”

    1. Even if Russia loses 34mn people, it is projected to be because of low fertility and high mortality trends linearly extrapolated to the future. That is quite different from genocide.

    2. You are quite simply ignorant, because the Nazis planned to exterminate the entire Slavic urban population and helotize the peasants. Refer to Generalplan Ost. Then again perhaps that would have been just fine by you.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — April 29, 2009 @ 4:39 pm

  11. […] This is an article I wrote for Russia Blog. There is a lively ongoing critique of it by Craig Pirrong and his supporters, with my rebuttals, at Streetwise Professor. […]

    Pingback by Rite of Spring: Russia Fertility Trends | Sublime Oblivion — April 29, 2009 @ 4:51 pm

  12. Perhaps the most hysterically funny aspect of this totally unqualified cretin’s gibberish is his underlying assumption that data produced by a Kremlin run by a proud KGB spy is reliable.

    Does this ape really believe that the Kremlin has a policy of full disclosure of facts that make it look bad? Does he really think we might believe he’d admit it if the Kremlin were ruining Russia, and that even though the entire educated world diagrees with him HE ALONE is in possession of of the “real” truth about Russia, which is to be found in the Kremlin’s own statements? If so, that’s pretty insulting of our intelligence.

    Another truly hilarious aspect of this court jester’s nonsensical ramblings is his total lack of familiarity with life on the ground in Russia. ANY of us who have lived there know perfectly well why Russia isn’t among the top 100 nations of the world for adult lifespan; Russians have the most barbarically unhealthy diets imaginable, they smoke, they drink, they are surrounded by toxic pollution and they are almost unimaginably violent, with the #5 murder rate on the planet. They also lead the world in indicia such as divorce rate and suicide, opening a clear window into just how very troubled their souls are. Thus, we don’t need any data from any source to know that Russia is perishing.

    But this silly little goat goes on bleeting, asking the world to ignore what is happening and consign the people of Russia once again to the dustbin of history. What did they ever do to him to make him hate them so much? He won’t say.

    Comment by La Russophobe — April 29, 2009 @ 6:06 pm

  13. Da Russophile writes: “That’s true, but ignores the fact that there was an almost full recovery in 2000.” Well, there was full recovery to 1998 levels, but Russian birth rates NEVER recovered to 1990 levels let alone 1980 levels. As always, you like to cherry pick you data. Let’s compare birth and death rates on a decade by decade basis.

    1980: birth rate = 15.9 per 1,000; death rate = 11.0 per 1,000
    1990: birth rate = 13.4 per 1,000; death rate = 11.9 per 1,000
    2000: birth rate = 8.7 per 1,000; death rate = 15.3 per 1,000

    The date for 2007: birth rate = 11.3 per 1,000; death rate = 14.6 per 1,000

    As you can see, even after 8 years of Putinism, birth rates have yet to fully recover to 1990 levels, let alone that of the 1980s and the death rate barely moved, though it is better than the all time high of 16.1 per 1,000 of 2005.

    What can we expect in the next few years? Well, birth rates will plunge. Likely lower than the all time low of 1999 which was 8.3 deaths per 1,000 and the death rate is more likely to climb up past 16 per 1,000. In other words, you will likely see two people dying for each person born. Not very good from a demographic perspective.

    Comment by Michel — April 29, 2009 @ 6:37 pm

  14. To add to that, in the last 5 years russia has lost 440,000 people to emigration. The brightest and the brainiest.

    Comment by voroBey — April 29, 2009 @ 6:57 pm

  15. No Da Russophile, I am demonstrating how you are grasping at straws and focusing on a very narrow period to try and minimize the true long-term trends. You point to a short lived uptick in birth rates and gloss over the fact that death rates are still extremely high.

    Comment by Michel — April 29, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

  16. Speaking of which,

    @Ray,

    While what you describe is of course a common feature of post-industrial societies, nonetheless the point stands that there remain substantial differences in fertility expectations in this group – from the highest in the US/France (around 2.1), going down to Scandinavia/UK/Canada (1.6-1.8), further down to Germany and the Med (1.3-1.4) and bottoming out with Japan, S. Korea and Taiwan (1.0-1.2).

    Based on multiple weighted surveys of many people, Russia’s “natural position” seems to be in the Scandinavia/UK group. I don’t dispute the fact that many parents don’t want to have any more kids after having the first one – especially in big cities and amongst the better-educated well-off (it should be noted that despite being one the richer Russian regions, Moscow City and St.-Petersburg also have the lowest TFR in all Russia), with whom I presume you have had the most contact with. That said, while I appreciate your input, I value measure-able trends more than anecdotal evidence.

    The fact remains that people in more ordinary Russian towns say they actually plan to have around 1.8-2.0 children (some 0.5 children lower than “ideal family size, as in most countries), and bearing in mind the other evidence from ABS, marriage rates, etc, I think this will be achieved sometime around the 2015-2020 period assuming no negative discontinuities. IMO, the evidence that the current crisis is one so severe as to have a multi-year SYSTEMATIC impact, i.e. to bring forth a discontinuity / second fertility collapse on the post-Soviet pattern, as opposed to a 1-2 year dip in the TFR, is wanting.

    Of course from 2015 there will be increasing pressure on the crude birth rate since the 1980’s generation will be aging beyond their childbearing years – pessimists here make a valid albeit overstated point. Michel’s scenario of a collapse of birth rates to lower than 8.3 / 1000 is only possible if a) there is no permanent improvement in the TFR beyond 1.3 or 1.4, which as I said is highly questionable, and b) only in the 2020’s or 2030’s, certainly not “in the next few years”.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — April 29, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  17. Dear Da Russophile, I have to say that I am a proponent of the social sciences not social science fiction. I base my analysis on existing social indicators, in the same way that the SWP bases economic analysis on existing economic data. I look at existing trends and existing statistics, not hope disguised in verbiage.

    You write: “I think this will be achieved sometime around the 2015-2020 period assuming no negative discontinuities.” In other words, you are hoping that there will be a miraculous change in 5 to 10 years (much like Putin & Co. promised that Russia would achieve great things in 2020), but just to be safe you insert a weasel out clause (“negative discontinuities.”)

    Also, you seem to be placing an inordinate amount of hope on how many children women in Russia “plan” to have as opposed to the number of children they actually will have. The fact of the matter is that women worldwide will invariably state that they want more children than they will have. IIRC, women in Canada will say that they want on average 3 children, though in reality they are likely to have fewer than two. Attribute it to wishful thinking or wishing to uphold social standards about women and motherhood. However, I prefer to base demographic trends on the number of children women actually have as opposed to how many they want to have, or plan to have.

    The existing social statistics are as follow:

    1) Birth rates have dropped drastically since the 1980s. The “baby boom” of the 1980s is now finishing having their children (go talk to women in Russia and they will tell you that it is better to have children before the age of 30). As I have noted several times, you will have a smaller cohort of women having children and unless this smaller cohort compensates by having larger numbers of children, this will lead to fewer children overall being born in Russia. However, given the economic crisis, women will put off having children, hence the increasing number of abortions;

    2) Birth rates recovered somewhat for a few years, but birth rates have not exceeded death rates since 1990 or in other words a full generation;

    3) Death rates dropped a bit, but are still exceedingly high. Death rates have not been below 10 per 1,000 since the 1970s. As a point of comparison, Russia’s death rate is roughly twice Canada’s death rate (14.6 in Russia per 1,000 versus 7.6 in Canada);

    To summarize, your analysis is based on wishful thinking and the facts do not substantiate your analysis.

    Comment by Michel — April 29, 2009 @ 10:48 pm

  18. One more thing. I should also point out that a nation that remained locked in illiberal anarchy, Ukraine, on the surface shows much fewer signs of fundamental demographic recovery, despite a similar demographic profile to Russia – although I admit I haven’t looked at it in full detail. Perhaps an idea for a future avenue of research – the noxious effects of color revolutions on a nation’s precious bodily fluids?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — April 28, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

    Interestingly I remember Eduard Hugo talking to somebody about demographics on his Ukraine blog. At least what that other person was saying is that Western Ukraine features better demographic indicators than the Eastern part and that it’s Eastern Ukraine’s anemic birth/death rates that create all the demographic doom and gloom. To this Eduard noticed that similar situation exists for example in Estonia where Estonians have demographic indicators comparable to Scandinavian countries while Russian minority is living in Russia in demographic terms. “I have no real explanation for this, other than to say that culture does matter,” Eduard concluded.

    PS

    Can you please stop advertising me in your posts as a Muslim fundamentalist? This is ridiculous. I have nothing to do with either Islam or Muslims.

    Comment by Nobody — April 30, 2009 @ 3:09 am

  19. Nobody,

    The reason as to why Russians in Eastern Ukraine or Estonia would have higher death rates is quite simple: drinking and smoking. Russian men in Russia could easily add a decade to their life expectancy if they drank less. Also, before Da Russophile comes back with official stats “showing” how alcohol consumption is not that high, I will preempt him by saying that much of the alcohol consumption in Russia is not recorded or tabulated in the official statistics as it involves homemade alcohol (samogon), alcohol produced not for consumption but drunk anyway (spirits or ethanol) or the consumption of products such as “troynoy eau-de-cologne. If Eduard’s stats are correct, then the most likely explanation would be alcohol consumption and/or smoking as factors contributing to higher death rates among certain populations in both Estonia and Ukraine.

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — April 30, 2009 @ 7:20 am

  20. They were not talking in the sense of Russians in Ukraine and Estonia having only higher death rates. Fertility seems to be also low, at least compared to Western Ukranians and ethnic Estonians.

    Regarding the subject itself, I would agree with AK on one thing: demographic trends appear to be notoriously difficult to predict even though the UN usually errs almost always on only one side – overestimating future fertility and birth rates. It always revises its predictions in only one direction. By the way, I checked that Rosstat study linked by AK and a thing that calls attention is that ideal family size seems to be significantly lower for teenagers. This makes me think that the low fertility trend will deepen in the future. I would also throw into this the massive migration of young Russians from the periphery to Moscow and Peter mentioned by many people I talked to who recently visited Russia. From what I remember from my childhood one child families were a norm in Moscow. In my classroom virtually nobody had sisters or brothers. This second wave of urbanization for sure will not improve Russian birth rates.

    However, I think we should wait a few years before we can know sure whether the current upward trend is temporary. This is true that pro natalist politics usually tend to produce short term gains because they tend to affect timing of births more than the planned fertility. Yet, demography is a fluid business. World wide demographic indicators are mostly collapsing and soon the UN won’t be able to overestimate future fertility as we are fast approaching the point beyond which we can only be able to underestimate it.

    Comment by Nobody — April 30, 2009 @ 7:55 am

  21. The problem with migrating to Moscow is the cost of rent and housing. I have friends who moved to Moscow from smaller cities. They have good jobs, but most of their salary goes to pay rent. There is no way they could afford to buy a room let alone an apartment. This means that they are not optimistic as to getting married, let alone starting a family. In the regional cities, not much better in most cases unless they can inherit an apartment of their parents can help them financially. The main problem facing young couples is solving the eternal housing question.

    Comment by Michel — April 30, 2009 @ 8:40 am

  22. Paul Goble has a piece today on the demographic decline in Siberia, the folly of the Kremlin’s neglect of the area and the consequences:

    The region’s population is not only declining, he says, but its level of education and culture is falling as well, trends that mean “if the political elite does not recognize fully the seriousness of the situation, it will soon become too late to engage in any talk about ‘the fates of Siberia.’”

    Ryzhkov says that he is talking about Siberia as “a geographic term,” the two federal districts that extend from the Urals to the Pacific that constitutes 80 percent of Russia’s territory, 22 percent of the country’s population, and is responsible for 30 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

    But the population is declining. Since 1990, five million of its residents have died or left. As a result, the population of Chukotka has fallen by more than half, of Magadan by 40 percent, Kamchatka by 18 percent, and so on. And this is happening despite the wealth of the region and security considerations with regard to China with its enormous population next door.

    http://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2009/04/window-on-eurasia-moscow-has-cast-aside.html

    China will be the ultimate beneficiary.

    Comment by penny — April 30, 2009 @ 9:57 am

  23. @michel

    I am no expert on these issues but I was told that Russian companies pay the bulk of their taxes in places where their headquarters are registered and not where their actual mineral extracting activities and so on are carried out. If this is the case, then such a taxation system should place the periphery at disadvantage. From what I remember from my experience in Russia, one child family is such a norm that it may be absolutely hopeless in big cities. If anything Russian government should better try to reverse the trend of the last years by favoring the periphery. Concentrating on agriculture may make sense in this regard both because of Russia’s enormous potential in this area and because this could revitalize the countryside and provincial cities. However, I am pretty much sure that this runs contrary to many very powerful vested interests in Moscow and elsewhere. But without some paradigm shift in the way this government approaches development, it’s hard to see how it can achieve a real breakthrough in demographic terms.

    Comment by Nobody — April 30, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

  24. A RUSSIAN confirms Putin has sent the population of SIBERIA into exile with extreme prejudice:

    http://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2009/04/window-on-eurasia-moscow-has-cast-aside.html

    Comment by La Russophobe — April 30, 2009 @ 2:11 pm

  25. oops .. great minds think alike, Penny!

    Comment by La Russophobe — April 30, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

  26. “They were not talking in the sense of Russians in Ukraine and Estonia having only higher death rates. Fertility seems to be also low, at least compared to Western Ukranians and ethnic Estonians.”

    While I can’t speak of western Ukrainians, I can say that ethnic Estonians have behaved quite differently from Russophones throughout the whole post-1945 period, with significantly lower death rates and replacement-level TFRs from the 1950s on. At one point in the late 1980s, a journalist observed that assuming there was no immigration from that point on, by the 2080s there would be 1.7 million Estonians and only three hundred Russophones in Estonia.

    Why? Different patterns in reproductive behaviour–not only did Estonians wait relatively longer than Russophones to become first-time parents, they have more children and are much more likely not to be married–along with different patterns in mortality, with significantly elevated levels of everything from cardiovascular disease to HIV infection among Russophones. This shift alone, with a relatively stable or slowly declining Estonian population alongside a rapidly shrinking Russophone population, will have major impacts on Estonia, not least because Russophone labour plays a critical role in many industrial and shipping industries, including those geared towards the Russian market.

    I’ll provide link to Estonia specifically when I get home, but for the time being this paper

    http://www.demographic-research.org/Volumes/Vol17/10/17-10.pdf

    exploring demographic trends in the post-1945 Baltic States holds true. The Baltics and Finland have long behaved quite differently, as far as marriage and reproduction goes, than Russia.

    As for the main point of the post, I quite agree. Leaving aside the apparent confusion between TFRs and completed fertility, it’s one thing to suggest that Russians might want to have large numbers of children–might–but another to say that they actually will. I’d be willing to bet that instead of seeing a baby boom, you’ll see the preferences of Russian women shift towards, in keeping with southern and central European precedents.

    Later,
    Randy

    Comment by Randy McDonald — April 30, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

  27. Nobody,

    You are right. Corporations pay taxes based on where they are registered, and of course the largest companies are registered in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Most of the money from the sale of oil and gas, is concentrated in a few cities and in turn most of the Russian wealth is concentrated in a couple dozen large corporations. I agree that this skewed development model works against population growth. However, despite the propaganda, I have my doubts as to whether the ruling elite (political and economic) is really concerned about the well-being of the population.

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — April 30, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

  28. @Nobody,

    Re-Ukraine. First, the Western regions only make up a small percentage of Ukraine’s population and as such the (true) fact that they have somewhat higher life expectancy does not play much of a role. Russia has unambiguously better demography than Ukraine as a whole, as a crude comparison for 2008 proves:

    BR – 11.0 in UKR, 12.1 in RU
    DR – 16.3 in UKR, 14.8 in RU

    For 2007 its TFR was 1.32 and Russia had 1.41 (actually its been higher in Russia since 1998). It’s overall life expectancy is only marginally higher than Russia’s (by about 1-2 years).

    PS. Ukraine’s stats for Jan 2009 are worrying. BR fell to 10.7 and DR rose to 18.1, whereas in Russia for that period BR remained steady and DR fell by 5%. @Michel, SWP et al. – when talking of a humanitarian crisis because of economic collapse, you might want to start citing Ukraine instead of Russia, at least for now. At least there’s evidence to back it up.

    Second, re-West Ukraine better than overall Ukraine. That is true, but not to the extent you stress. West Ukraine has significantly lower mortality rates than Eastern Russian-leaning regions, but it too has a mortality crisis nonetheless. And the differences between birth rates are pretty small, although in the Western favor.

    That’s from a cursory look at Ukraine’s national statistical service. However, I can’t find a regional breakdown of Ukraine’s TFR and life expectancy, which would be much more useful in making a reak judgment.

    “Can you please stop advertising me in your posts as a Muslim fundamentalist? This is ridiculous. I have nothing to do with either Islam or Muslims.”

    Sorry – I just copied that part from my old article verbatim.

    “This second wave of urbanization for sure will not improve Russian birth rates.”

    The migration to Moscow only really applies to Moscow Oblast, although its true there has been substantial migration in general from rural to urban areas. That said, the percentage of urban residents has remained fixes at around 70-75% since 1989, presumably because of higher fertility amongst rural folks.

    “World wide demographic indicators are mostly collapsing and soon the UN won’t be able to overestimate future fertility as we are fast approaching the point beyond which we can only be able to underestimate it.”

    True, and in fact fairly recently it raised its medium projection of world population in 2050 from 8.9bn to 9.3bn, mostly because of an unexpected recent up-tick in the developed world.

    @penny,

    It seems Ryzhkov doesn’t know the difference between Siberia and the Far East. And he cherry-picks the absolute worst declining, remotest and lowest population regions – Chukotka, Magadan and Kamchatka.

    @Michel,

    “The reason as to why Russians in Eastern Ukraine or Estonia would have higher death rates is quite simple: drinking and smoking. Russian men in Russia could easily add a decade to their life expectancy if they drank less. Also, before Da Russophile comes back with official stats “showing” how alcohol consumption is not that high, I will preempt him…” – Michel

    “Many commentators believe that Russia’s excessively high mortality rates preclude a demographic recovery – an example of this line of reasoning appears in Rising Ambitions, Sinking Population by Nicholas Eberstadt. It is certainly true that Russia’s life expectancy is exceptionally low by industrialized-world standards and that death rates for middle-aged men today are, amazingly, no different from those of late Tsarism. This development is almost entirely attributable to the extreme prevalance of binge drinking of hard spirits. Yet their conclusions don’t follow the arguments.” – myself

    Thank you for unequivocally proving you did even read my article before dissing it. Case closed.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — April 30, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

  29. “Russia’s life expectancy is exceptionally low by industrialized-world standards” – Da Russophile

    So, what exactly have you been smoking? The average life expectancy for a Russian male is 59.12 years. This puts it in the same league with Madagascar (60.23), Ghana (58.65), and lagging behind countries such as Bangladesh (62.81). No, dear Russophile, the life expectancy of Russian males is not “low by industrialized-world standards” it is merely high by Sub-Saharan African standards ;) Now, lets compare the life expectancy with that of males in industrialized countries: Japan (78.73), France (77.68), Canada (76.98) and the United States (75.15). Again, even in the United States that has a relatively low life expectancy as compared to other industrialized countries, the males will live on average more than 25% longer than Russian males.

    Comment by Michel — April 30, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

  30. I don’t even know what you’re trying to prove now, Michel.

    You haven’t read the article, that much is obvious.

    In that paragraph I quoted, the “prevalance of binge drinking” was hyperlinked to here, where I said much the same thing as you did.

    “Russia’s infant mortality rate, at 10.8 / 1000 people in 2008, is respectable compared to countries of roughly similar income levels (Mexico – 19.0; Latvia – 9.0; Poland – 6.9) and far better than most developing countries. Nor is Russia’s female life expectancy all that bad compared with the typical Asian or Latin American country. The same cannot be said of male life expectancy. According to CIA estimates, in 2008 it stands at a meagre 59.2 years – the US (75.3), Poland (71.4), India (66.9), Ukraine (62.2) and even Bangladesh (63.2) score higher, while Russia’s neighbors in this area are the likes of Madagascar (60.6) and Ghana (58.7). The main reason is amazingly high mortality rates for middle-aged Russian men, which by Rosstat calculations are somewhat higher today than they were in 1897.”

    As usual, the harder you try the more you fail.

    @penny,

    I will quickly note that the Eastern Front in WW2 was completely different from the Western, from its initiation by Nazi Germany extremely barbaric and not subject to traditional laws of war – and as such they cannot be comparable in this sense. Allied servicemen did not have to look at the destroyed cities and massacred villages of they country before coming to Germany. And this is the last of what I’ll say on this matter in this thread.

    @Randy,

    While I don’t doubt mortality rates are higher for Russophones than for ethnic Estonians, I suspect the difference is not as cardinal as you make it out to be. First, Russians only make up about a quarter of the population, so to a large extent Estonian (or Latvian) will reflect the demographic trends of the aborigines – and while their stats are better than those of Russia, they are not extraordinarily so. Second, to take the example of Lithuania, where Russians make up about 10% of the population and as such should be large insignificant, its LE in 2007 was 71 years, and as is usual for the post-Soviet region with very high death rates for middle-aged men, and with the dubious distinction of having the world’s largest suicide rate. (I do however recognize that Lithuania is Polish-influenced, and therefore not strictly comparable to Estonia or Latvia). I guess the main point I’m making is that mortality trends are similar and bad everywhere in the Christian post-Soviet space, they’re just a little to moderately worse among Russian or Russophone populations. Of course, detailed ethnic stats would be great, if you could find them.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — April 30, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  31. Well, at least you concede my point: Russian males are dying in droves. So, how exactly is this good for Russia?

    Comment by Michel — April 30, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

  32. Okay, I am bored, and I am reading your “article.” I will say, the first part is not bad, but I have reached that section where you veer off into science fiction. You write:

    “Talking of which, we now move on to the fun bit – the Transformation scenario. This is an event or series of events which would induce a demographic paradigm shift. In the previous post, we’ve identified the artificial womb as a revolutionary concept for supply-side demographics, which will make the ‘birth rate’ independent of sociological factors.”

    In other words, your glorious solution for Russia is to develop artificial wombs so the state can produce the babies it needs and bypass women altogether? Presumably women have these nasty tendencies to think about the well-being of their future children?

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — April 30, 2009 @ 8:38 pm

  33. There, I finished reading your text. I love one of your recommendations. You write: “Convert wine production into a strategic industry and massively fund its expansion. Try to remake Russia into a wine-drinking nation. Aim to turn vodka into an exclusively export industry.” I never knew you were a budding comic Da Russophile ;) Though, I have to say that I am impressed by the combination of science fiction and comedy in one article discussing Russian demographics LOL!

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — April 30, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

  34. “Well, at least you concede my point: Russian males are dying in droves. So, how exactly is this good for Russia?”

    Read the Rite of Spring article, instead of just SWP’s criticism of it. My point was not that’s its “good” but that it has minor effects on long-term demographic trends relative to fertility.

    “In other words, your glorious solution for Russia is to develop artificial wombs so the state can produce the babies it needs and bypass women altogether?”

    That is certainly an idea worthy of serious exploration by the world’s governments, for feminist and ecological purposes.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — April 30, 2009 @ 11:31 pm

  35. The migration to Moscow only really applies to Moscow Oblast, although its true there has been substantial migration in general from rural to urban areas. That said, the percentage of urban residents has remained fixes at around 70-75% since 1989, presumably because of higher fertility amongst rural folks.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion

    I think it’s more tricky than that. This migration may not be massive in terms of numbers, yet it seems to disproportionately affect a particular segment of the population – young singles, a segment that counts a lot from the demographic point of view.

    Comment by Nobody — May 1, 2009 @ 12:10 am

  36. That’s from a cursory look at Ukraine’s national statistical service. However, I can’t find a regional breakdown of Ukraine’s TFR and life expectancy, which would be much more useful in making a reak judgment.

    From what I remember from that thread, they said that one Western province has nothing and nothing less but the highest birth rate in Europe

    Comment by Nobody — May 1, 2009 @ 12:17 am

  37. nothing and nothing less = nothing more and nothing less

    Comment by Nobody — May 1, 2009 @ 12:19 am

  38. Volynsk, Roven and Zakarpatie had BR = 14.7-14.8 in 2008, which is highly differentiated from the rest of Ukraine which is at 9.0-12.0 (including Western regions like Lviv, where it is 11.3, for instance). It is indeed the highest BR in Europe (for European countries, that is!), though my rough calculation of TFR gives a figure of 1.8-2.0 means that part of the reason is an exceptional youth bulge from the 1980’s cohort.

    Still, that’s quite an impressive TFR for a post-Soviet region and it would be interesting to see why its so much higher than in either the rest of Ukraine or even neighboring Poland, with whom they’ve got firm historical links. IIRC, those three are also the poorest Ukrainian regions. In any case, considering they have 3.4mn people between them, its not making a significant difference on the overall situation in Ukraine or even just its western part.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 1, 2009 @ 12:53 am

  39. I believe that there are solutions to dangerously low fertility levels in nations which are past the demographic transition. Moreover, while I support reasonable immigration, mass migration should not be looked to as the easy fix for the problem.

    One current theory has it that cultures where there are fairly traditional gender roles like Japan and Italy have women less likely to go through the process of child rearing more than once or twice while trying to maintain a career. And nations that have flexible labour markets where women can work part-time for a few years or actually quit to spend a few years with the kids and yet be rehired in her field. Employers who are not saddled with extreme obligations to each employee are more willing to hire new ones which means that leaving work to raise kids is not career suicide.

    I see Europe as being far better placed to work out and adopt conditions which promote replacement fertility than Russia, at least until there is a significant change in Russian economic, political and societal orientation.

    Comment by Snake Oil Baron — May 1, 2009 @ 2:39 am

  40. “While I don’t doubt mortality rates are higher for Russophones than for ethnic Estonians, I suspect the difference is not as cardinal as you make it out to be. First, Russians only make up about a quarter of the population, so to a large extent Estonian (or Latvian) will reflect the demographic trends of the aborigines – and while their stats are better than those of Russia, they are not extraordinarily so.”

    They _are_ extraordinarily different. Going at pub.stat.ee to the table “POPULATION, 1 JANUARY by Sex, County, Year and Ethnic nationality” reveals that the national population fell from 1 372 thousand in 2000 to 1 341 thousand in 2009, with the Estonian population going from a bit less than 936 thousand to a bit less than 921. The population fell by 31 thousand during this time period, and even though Estonians make up ~70% of the Estonian population they’re responsible for less than half of the population’s decrease. Assuming as is plausible that ethnically differential emigration hasn’t occurred, that suggests

    Going to the table “POPULATION BY SEX, AGE AND COUNTY, 1 JANUARY” I pulled statistics over the same time 2000-2008 period for the three counties with the largest populations, of Harju (Tallinn area), Ida-Viru (Narva) and Tartu (obviously), areas with a 50:50 Estonian:Russophone population, a large Russophone majority, and a large Estonian majority. Harju’s population fell by a half-percent, Ida-Viru’s by 5.5%, and Tartu’s by 0.3%.

    Finally, if you go to the table “BIRTHS, DEATHS AND NATURAL INCREASE by Year, County, Sex and Indicator,” and if you run these statistics for Estonia and these three counties, you’ll see that kind of pattern, natural increase returning first in largely Estonian Tartu in 2004 then in Harju in 2005. For the last five years of the data set, Ida-Viru’s population has continued to decrease by a thousand people per year.

    The net picture is one showing ethnic Estonian populations remaining relatively stable and even resuming growth while Russophone populations continue to contract. This contrast is all the more pronounced given that ethnic Estonians constituted until recently a “younger” population than Estonian Russophones, a population formed almost entirely by the immigration of relatively young people.

    Estonians are increasingly adopting–or returning to–the patterns of their Nordic kin, with high completed fertility and stable natural increase, the only pre-1991 operiods of natural decrease coming in 1978-1981 and again in 1985 owing to the aging of the population. Estonian Russophones, despite living in a country considerably richer and stabler than Russia, are sharing instead in the common post-Soviet Russophone trap of high mortality and low natality. Estonian Russophones might well want large families, but unlike their Estonian counterparts they don’t seem to have them.

    Making long-term projections is obviously problematic, but if–as judging by the precedent of the past two decades–this gap in demographic behaviours is sustained, and the ethnic Estonian component of Estonia’s population remains stable while the Russophone component continues to shrink, then the country’s demographics are going to change radically. The table “POPULATION BORN IN ESTONIA BY PLACE OF BIRTH AND ETHNIC NATIONALITY” suggests that even in 2000, more than 80% of births were to Estonian mothers. What will the Estonia of 2029 look like?

    Similar patterns prevail in Latvia, although with the significantly greater intermingling of ethnic Latvians and Russophones I expect it to have a less pronounced effect. Lithuania’s distinct from the other two Baltic States, agreed.

    I can’t speak with any authority over events elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, save that western Ukrainians do appear to have somewhat better vital statistics than their eastern counterparts and that the countries with the lowest TFRs in Central Asia (Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) are also the countries with the largest Russophone populations and where the Russian language is in widest use.

    The relevance of this digression to the post at hand? Briefly put, in a large variety of settings, including environments where Russophones/Russians enjoy relatively greater prosperity than other conationals (Ukraine, Central Asia) or are absolutely richer and live in stabler environments than in Russia (Latvia, Estonia), Russians still haven’t responded with either a baby boom or decreased mortality.

    The article suggested that desired fertility in Russia is high and will therefore lead to an uptick in TFRs. Another, more accurate, interpretation might be that relatively high levels of desired fertility reflect lag from the period of high fertility that lasted into the 1980s, and that as time passed desired fertility will drift downwards towards actual, low, TFRs, as has been the pattern elsewhere in the developed world.

    Comment by Randy McDonald — May 1, 2009 @ 2:40 am

  41. “Michel, SWP et al. – when talking of a humanitarian crisis because of economic collapse, you might want to start citing Ukraine instead of Russia, at least for now. At least there’s evidence to back it up.”

    There’s clearly evidence to support _both_ cases.

    Comment by Randy McDonald — May 1, 2009 @ 2:46 am

  42. I see Europe as being far better placed to work out and adopt conditions which promote replacement fertility than Russia, at least until there is a significant change in Russian economic, political and societal orientation.

    This is open to debate. Europe’s immigration policies have ended with whole areas of the Middle East transplanted as they are to European cities where the natives occasionally look as if under siege by a new wave of barbarians. If this does not end eventually with some some sort of a civil war in some places, then I will be surprised.

    The general public in Europe seems to have very limited awareness of the incoming demographic implosion with a collapse of social systems associated with it. Europeans by far are more preoccupied with saving blue whales and reducing their carbon footprints. This is obvious from reading European forums where news about collapsing fertility are greeted with remarkable enthusiasm.

    At least Russian government has a very clear sense of urgency in this sense. The demographic issue was defined as the national challenge number one. Even if the current uptick will run out of steam, and it probably will, it’s very likely that the authorities will come up with a second demographic stimulus package. Russian government is not constrained by political correctness and other lunacies the European style. If necessary it will go all the way to threatening people with reduced pensions if they fail to comply. This is by far not the end of the story. If anything I will predict that both will do badly, but I have by now zero expectations from Europe.

    Comment by Nobody — May 1, 2009 @ 3:00 am

  43. @Randy,

    Re-Estonia.

    “Assuming as is plausible that ethnically differential emigration hasn’t occurred, that suggests”. But that certainly is not the case. Many Russians emigrated from the Baltics during the 1990’s, and mostly amongst younger people. Older people didn’t because they have nowhere to go back to and will find it difficult to adjust, and considering that the bulk of the Slavic population infusion took place during the 1950’s and 1960’s (I’m assuming this because from the 1970’s on net migration for the RSFSR turned positive), this means that many of them will now be in their 50’s and 60’s even though they came in their 20’s. Not prime reproductive material.

    Second, I looked at the natural increase figures, and indeed Harju and Talinn are both much healthier looking than Ida-Viru. However, I also noticed that Harju, Talinn and Tarju are the ONLY regions even as of 2007 to have positive net population growth. All the small counties, which I assume are rural, ethnic-Estonian counties (is this correct?) have falling populations with significantly more deaths than births. I think the more reasonable explanation is that all the young people have migrated to the likes of Talinn and Harju, boosting their birth rates, while old folks back in the small towns and countryside are dying out.

    And many young Russophones left for Russia, or for Talinn, or abroad (I’ve met many ethnic Russian laborers from the Baltics while in Europe, but no ethnic Estonians or ethnic Latvians), leaving their old folk to die away in Narva.

    “Briefly put, in a large variety of settings, including environments where Russophones/Russians enjoy relatively greater prosperity than other conationals (Ukraine, Central Asia) or are absolutely richer and live in stabler environments than in Russia (Latvia, Estonia), Russians still haven’t responded with either a baby boom or decreased mortality. ”

    1. Many of these Russians are almost urban workers, and in some cases like the Baltics and especially Central Asian countries, have lost great numbers of people from their young, reproductive-age cohorts.

    2. For Russophones, living in what are essentially foreign countries cannot be good for morale, especially in certain Baltic nations whose “stabler environments” are based on linguistic, cultural and political oppression of Russophones as has been documented by HR organizations like Amnesty International.

    3. In Russia itself, there is a rich region, Khanty-Mansi, which is 66% Russia and is significantly ahead of the rest of Russia in economic development. In 2007 the TFR was at 1.66; BR = 14.6 and DR = 7.0, and further improved substantially in 2008. These figures are quite respectable, and indicative that in economic prosperity and a developed healthcare system will probably substantially improve its demography.

    Re-crisis,

    “There’s clearly evidence to support _both_ cases.”

    There a lot more evidence for Ukraine.

    As of March 2009, every third Ukrainian had difficulty buying food, source = http://unian.net/eng/news/news-303999.html
    The same was true for only 10% of Russians in the same period, source = http://www.levada.ru/press/2009041702.html

    And this isn’t my opinion, it’s the voice of the people.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 1, 2009 @ 8:56 am

  44. I am glad Anatoly Karlin’s piece has provoked a lively discussion about the conventional wisdom of Russian demography, and that University of Houston Prof. Pirrong has hosted it here. I currently live up I-45 from Prof. Pirrong in Dallas, Texas.

    My own article on the American politics of discussing Russian (and by extension, European) demographics is here:

    http://www.russiablog.org/2009/04/power_and_population_debating.php

    I believe that there has been a tendency in Washington to downplay unfavorable demographic trends in Ukraine and Georgia (which have high emigration rates, with many of those emigrating going to work in Russia, in addition to low birth rates) in favor of playing them up in the Russian Federation. U.S. conservatives may also be guilty of emphasizing these problems in “Old Europe” while overlooking them in Japan, since the Japanese seem to be made of more martial stuff. There hasn’t been a very good analysis that I have seen of Japan’s Lost Decade and whether the Japanese baby bust preceded it or accelerated as a result of that economic crisis. The implications for our own present situation here in the U.S. are obvious.

    As for the tendency for knees to jerk on the American Right when it comes to Russia, the comments in reply to this ill-thought out post over at the Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog are instructive:

    http://blog.heritage.org/2009/04/28/the-russians-are-coming/

    Comment by Charles Ganske — May 1, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

  45. Stipulated: Ukraine is a basket case that faces impending economic collapse (cf. its CDS spread), and arguably a worse demographic problem than Russia. No surprise here. Ukraine suffers the same legacy of autocracy, Tsarist or Communist, that has devastated Russia, and does not have the resources that prop up Russia. Ukraine has the same institutional deficit as Russia, an obsolete, Soviet-built, energy inefficient economy, a dysfunctional political system, etc. (Though I will note that even without the natural resource endowment of Russia, Ukraine grew as much or more during the period of Russia’s growth in the 2000s.)

    Ukraine also has to put up with–and fight–the continued attempts of Russia to undermine its sovereignty and economic independence. I truly sympathize for it.

    But, the attempts to draw attention to Ukraine and away from Russia seem to me to be merely an effort to get me and others here to avert our eyes from Russia. I will continue to focus on Russia because: (a) Russia has nukes, Ukraine doesn’t; (b) Russia has energy and other strategic resources, Ukraine doesn’t; (c) Russia has imperial ambitions, and ambitions to be a Great Power, Ukraine doesn’t.

    Indeed, Russia has pretensions, and has always looked down on Ukraine as one of the “little brothers.” (Many Russians derisively refer to Ukraine as Little Russia.) But now I’m not supposed to pay attention to big, important Russia, and instead am supposed to play up the travails of its little brother Ukraine? Indeed, the comments section of this blog have seen much Russophile derision of Ukraine.

    I empathize for Ukraine, and do not wish it ill. The same goes–believe it or not–for Russia. But I will continue to focus on Russia, because for better or worse–and these days, usually for worse–it matters more economically and geopolitically.

    Maybe more later, but off to DC.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 1, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  46. Randy writes: “Michel, SWP et al. – when talking of a humanitarian crisis because of economic collapse, you might want to start citing Ukraine instead of Russia, at least for now. At least there’s evidence to back it up.”

    Randy, I have never been to Ukraine, nor do I speak Ukrainian. I will read the occasional article about Ukraine, but I do not go out of my way to do research on Ukraine. For these reasons, I do not and will not post extensively on Ukraine, any more than I will post on Brazil or Madagascar or any other country that I am not very familiar with.

    Comment by Michel — May 1, 2009 @ 11:44 pm

  47. Prof. Pirrong,
    As we say here in Texas, if you wrestle with a pig, sometimes the pig likes it. The pigs seem to have gone hog wild in your absence.

    I have enjoyed reading the comments from real people using their real names at this forum. The trolls? I don’t feed them. Neither do Thomas P.M. Barnett or any of the other bloggers I admire who put their thoughts out there to be critiqued, and right or wrong can stand by what they write instead of hiding.

    The Real Russia Project and our co-sponsors had about 300 people on hand last week in D.C. at World Russia Forum, including the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (I think one of my former professors at UT-Austin, an octagenarian who used to work for NASA, probably knows him well) and the U.S. Undersecretary of State. All of which shows just how well this smear job is going three years on. Seriously, if I were a donor to this professional troll, I would ask for my money back. But desperation breeds desperate measures, like saying that the Discovery Institute in Seattle, WA and Washington D.C. is the same as some cult somewhere (nice try), or citing a blogger who hates DI who knows nothing about Russia (he even said that Russia Blog endorsed Russia’s “brutal assault on Ossetia”) and has alienated most of his readership with his censorous arrogance and loathing of all religious people. I’m sure Michael Medved would find claims that a think tank he supports is secretly anti-Semitic hilarious.

    Speaking of supporters, there is no mystery about ours, innuendo aside, they’re listed on our website at http://www.realrussiaproject.org. As Dr. Lozansky pointed out at the Foundry blog, one of the founders of the Heritage Foundation back in the 70s, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation, also helped Lozansky to found World Russia Forum. What happened since then? When did the lines between anti-Soviet, or even anti-Kremlin, and anti-Russian get blurred, to the point that many who claimed to be conservatives became radicals, with an almost utopian faith in revolutions and military power? When did they forget what Solzhenitsyn wrote, that the line between good and evil runs not through governments or systems, but through the human heart?

    If anyone had the guts to take off their online Darth Vader mask and actually meet the folks they have spent the past three and a half years villifying, then they were more than welcome. I just tell people when we meet that if they Google me, they’ll see I have an anonymous stalker…and I’m afraid, to quote Austin Powers, “that’s no chick, that’s a man, baby!” No lady on Earth, I must concede, could possibly be this obsessed with me. :)

    Remember the words of the late Richard Nixon, a tragic figure who saw things clearly once he had to face the truth: “Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.” (there I suppose, is your Nixon-DI vast right wing conspiracy connection: Ben Stein bawling in the background as Nixon said farewell on that podium). Some people out there in cyberspace are clearly destroying themselves with their hatred of me and all things Russian.

    Comment by Charles Ganske — May 2, 2009 @ 1:41 am

  48. Oh my! 2100 Russia will be reduced to 92 million give or take a couple million? Interesting, unfortunately that’s a hypothesis, not a statement of fact as some seem to suggest. Pointing to past trends as justification is rather….awkward, because with nearly 90 years in between it’s hard to state with seriousness that everything will function as the past has for the next 90 years. It could get worse or it could become excellent or just mediocre.

    Also I saw a skeptical argument against the statistics and their “credibility” which is rather stupid because that argument comes back in a circle right to originator of the skepticism.

    I realize people have their sentiments, but don’t let it consume your brain entirely.

    Comment by Mr. D — May 2, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

  49. Isn’t Front Page Magazine supposed to be conservative? Yet, Christopher Hitchens has appeared there. Alexander Cockburn has appeared in the American Conservative. Paul Craig Roberts has regularly appeared in Counterpunch, Antiwar.com and Chronicles Magazine.

    There are numerous other examples of individuals appearing at venues that whose overall take might not be in line with their own. Should that be discouraged?

    Rock on Sublime Oblivion and Russia Blog.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — May 2, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

  50. “Whatever the case, its quite obvious he/she/it hasn’t gotten laid in a very long time.”

    Hey. DR, you hit sewer level with that ad hominem attack on LR. It puts you in my books in the permanent ignore column.

    Your narcissism has worn thin.

    Comment by penny — May 2, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

  51. Da Russophile,

    The comments regarding LR were sophomoric and a covertly sexist.

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — May 2, 2009 @ 10:33 pm

  52. @Michel,

    That’s too bad, because I couldn’t care less about the opinion of a lame-ass Canuck ancestor of cheese-eating surrender monkeys, go do something useful for once and get me some furs. ;)

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 2, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

  53. Again Da Russophile, your immaturity is showing. You are now sinking below sophomoric.

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — May 2, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

  54. If I sink low enough I’ll eventually emerge at the top.

    That’s my theory, anyway.

    You dear Michel however are only sinking into your own ass.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 2, 2009 @ 10:55 pm

  55. Da Russophile,

    You are clearly showing the intelligence and maturity that I would associate with a child in junior high school. Usually, the novelty of being able to say words such as “ass” dissipates once you reach sophomoric.

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — May 2, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

  56. I’m only trying to find common grounds with your folks!?

    Disappointed you don’t appreciate the effort.

    *sulks in corner*

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 2, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

  57. Sulks in corner? Terrible twos. At this rate or regression, you will need one of your “artificial wombs” by the end of the evening LOL!!!!

    Comment by Michel — May 2, 2009 @ 11:14 pm

  58. Touché!

    So some Canucks actually do have a sense of humor!? 8-O

    My world is falling apart.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 2, 2009 @ 11:21 pm

  59. List of Canadian comedians: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Canadian_comedians. Many/most of the most popular comedians in Hollywood are actually Canadian. If it weren’t for Canadians, the United States would be a much duller place Russophile.

    Comment by Michel — May 2, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

  60. Nah, you begin to fail again as usual. Citing a list of comedians to prove you’re just as cool as other countries is just lame.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 2, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

  61. We don’t have to prove we are cool. Unlike Russia we don’t have an inferiority complex ;)

    Comment by Michel — May 2, 2009 @ 11:32 pm

  62. Russia might have an inferiority complex, but it can kick Canada’s punk ass until it comes whining to the US like a little bitch nigga. Then the US and Russia go on a shooting rampage, like the bitch slapperz they are.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 2, 2009 @ 11:40 pm

  63. Anyway, this conversation is getting more retarded by the minute. I’m out.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 2, 2009 @ 11:42 pm

  64. Good night Da Russophile!

    Comment by Michel — May 2, 2009 @ 11:48 pm

  65. “behaving as if SWP doesn’t know who many or most of us are outside of the blogosphere. Many of us have worked in Russia, have family in or from Russia, have well-established contacts and have come to know the Professor through such associations.” If he knows you than I’m sure the Professor wouldn’t mind sharing his thoughts on the identity of my stalker (since he/she uses so many names, kind of like here), when exactly this person lived and worked in Russia, or maybe he can enlighten the world on which 501(c)3 in D.C. or elsewhere pays his or her bills. But I think you’re lying again, and I don’t think the Prof has a clue who you are, he just doesn’t want to be smeared by a professional troll for the rest of his life either.

    “No wonder the US wasn’t interested in your services…”

    Do you care to elaborate on this line?

    Comment by Charles Ganske — May 2, 2009 @ 11:56 pm

  66. Right now, Russia might have a better men’s national ice hockey team than Canada.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — May 3, 2009 @ 2:04 am

  67. Dear Cutie Pie, good for the Russian men’s national ice hockey team. We will see how they fare in the Olympics that will be held in Vancouver in 2010. However, I don’t really define Canada in terms of hockey. If our team wins, great, if they don’t there is always next year.

    Speaking of Vancouver, the city is ranked in the top 5 best cities where to live. Mercer’s 2009 Quality of Living survey ranked Vancouver as the 4th best place to live in the world in terms of quality of life. In North America, the five Canadian cities held the top five spots. As for Russia, well Moscow was ranked 169th out of 215 cities and St. Petersburg 164th.

    Sources: http://www.mercer.com/qualityofliving and http://realty.vz.ru/article/2009/4/29/665.html.

    Comment by Michel — May 3, 2009 @ 8:41 am

  68. @Sublime Oblivion

    No, I was referring to the point that someone pointed out a site or organization and stated “bias statistics” just because it’s from X or Y or the “self interest” rhetoric. That argument goes full circle right back to the originator. If there are problems with the statistics they have to be shown that it’s a small sample, non-representative sample, conclusions drawn don’t support the data, etc. Not merely, “It’s from Russia/America/Organization X/Whomever so it’s inherently biased.”

    @penny

    That wasn’t an ad hominem. Simply stating an insult towards a person isn’t classification of an ad hominem. An ad hominem is when you state a character attack in replace of a reply to an argument. Ad hominem is probably the most misidentified fallacy on the internet.

    Comment by Mr. D — May 3, 2009 @ 10:13 am

  69. Mr. D, and you are the sock puppet of whom?

    I’ll rephrase my comment, DR’s personal attack on LR was disgusting and lowlife. Very lowlife.

    Obviously my vocabulary usage stirred a negative response from you rather than his behavior. I’ll let others draw their own conclusions on how pathetic that makes you look.

    Comment by penny — May 3, 2009 @ 11:03 am

  70. @penny

    Sock puppet of whom?….Logic.

    I’m sorry that I offended your sentiments by pointing out that personal insults are not always ad hominems. Look, now you are trying to imply that I somehow embrace his behavior because I pointed out a flaw in your reply. How you draw this conclusion is beyond me.

    Should people use insults? No, not really. Am I going to act hysterical because someone insulted another person on the internet? No.

    Comment by Mr. D — May 3, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

  71. Logic: we have “Sublime Oblivion” who used to call himself “Da Russophile.” All of a sudden we have a Mr. D (short for Da Russophile?) posting to support Sublime Oblivion, aka Da Russophile. It is not a leap of logic to assume that we are speaking of the same person ;)

    Comment by Michel — May 3, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

  72. @ Michel

    Unfortunately it is a leap of logic. You’re saying two posters are the same individual because they share the same consonant. Your assumption is that Mr. D is short for Da Russophile which is not only unfounded but incorrect.

    Support Sublime Oblivion? No, not really. I’m stating that these birthrates and population figures are merely descriptive accounts of what has happened and in no way do they justify the future as a concrete fact. So rates could continue as is, or they could increase, or they could decrease, or they could be like a pendulum the next 90 years.

    My point is rather clear cut and simple, if your sentimentalities are offended then I’m sorry.

    Comment by Mr. D — May 3, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

  73. I think everybody knows who Anatoly Karlin is and isn’t online. Regardless of whether we agree or disagree about topics other than Russia, which are irrelevant here, Anatoly doesn’t need to hide behind swarms of sock puppets to make his points. Most of his critics in this forum pretend that their online personages are the equivalent of actual persons using real names, split hairs, or just plain make stuff up.

    As with any time you’re talking to the La Russophobe collective, once you get into exactly who they are and who pays their bills, they change the subject back to schoolyard insults or simply disappear. Prof. Pirrong clearly doesn’t want to be publically associated with them, neither does Georgetown U Prof Ethan Burger, who came to World Russia Forum last month, and who hasn’t posted over at La Russophobe in months.

    Perhaps one of the La Russophobers is in a profession that would be negatively affected if their trolling or hatred of Russians were revealed? One way or another, they cannot stand behind what they write. So I think that tells everyone what they need to know.

    Comment by Charles Ganske — May 3, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  74. “Perhaps one of the La Russophobers is in a profession that would be negatively affected if their trolling or hatred of Russians were revealed?”

    That is add statement. Reads somewhat like a veiled threat. However, it is fascinating how any critique of Russia is interpreted as a “hatred of Russians.” Some of us actually want to see the lives of Russians in Russia improve and believe that this can only be achieved with a true democracy that effectively can counter corruption. Perhaps we shall next be labeled as a “враг наров”?

    Comment by Michel — May 3, 2009 @ 4:10 pm

  75. My bad. The last sentence should read: “a true democracy that can effectively counter corruption. Perhaps we shall next be labeled as a ‘враг народа'”

    Comment by Michel — May 3, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  76. “Michel”,
    No one is threatening anyone. There is only one side making a disagreement about policy personal here. Only the trolls here are implying that they know something which is not on Google or a matter of public record about individuals.

    My point was simply that if I knew that someone had obsessively smeared another person online for three years on, it would definitely affect my hiring decision, regardless of the reasons for said smears. I mean, how does an employer know that they won’t be slimed in the same way if they decide to part ways with this employee? That’s what I said.

    Comment by Charles Ganske — May 3, 2009 @ 5:15 pm

  77. Perhaps one of the La Russophobers is in a profession that would be negatively affected if their trolling or hatred of Russians were revealed?

    Effected. Affect refers to mood. Hey, but, like grammar/usage matters when your content is so compelling. Out of curiosity what profession exactly would oust a member because they are critical of Putin’s Russia? Oh, please, share that with us.

    And, DR, I thought you were out of here. It’s been a repeated pattern of you threatening to leave when comments go against you, it’s getting old. How about surprising us someday, taking your puppet toys of course with you, and going for good.

    Comment by penny — May 3, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

  78. Da Russophobe writes: “Michel = who I showed didn’t even read the article apart from SWP’s critique of it”

    Didn’t you read all my posts? I did read your article and summarized my comments in two posts.

    Reread post 36 and 37:

    Okay, I am bored, and I am reading your “article.” I will say, the first part is not bad, but I have reached that section where you veer off into science fiction. You write:

    “Talking of which, we now move on to the fun bit – the Transformation scenario. This is an event or series of events which would induce a demographic paradigm shift. In the previous post, we’ve identified the artificial womb as a revolutionary concept for supply-side demographics, which will make the ‘birth rate’ independent of sociological factors.”

    In other words, your glorious solution for Russia is to develop artificial wombs so the state can produce the babies it needs and bypass women altogether? Presumably women have these nasty tendencies to think about the well-being of their future children?

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — April 30, 2009 @ 8:38 pm

    There, I finished reading your text. I love one of your recommendations. You write: “Convert wine production into a strategic industry and massively fund its expansion. Try to remake Russia into a wine-drinking nation. Aim to turn vodka into an exclusively export industry.” I never knew you were a budding comic Da Russophile ;) Though, I have to say that I am impressed by the combination of science fiction and comedy in one article discussing Russian demographics LOL!

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — April 30, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

    I read the article. The first part is fairly decent when you at least stick to the data. Then it gets really flaky when you start talking about artificial wombs and then propose unrealistic solutions: i.e. weaning Russians off of vodka and having them start drinking wine !?!

    Your article is combination science fiction (artificial wombs), fantasy (the miraculous resolution of a deeply ingrained alcohol problem that became rooted in Russian society in late Soviet times by having Russians start drinking wine) and wishful thinking (that somehow Russian women will start having as many babies as they say the want to have).

    Comment by Michel — May 3, 2009 @ 10:51 pm

  79. “Although her “J’accuse!”, intense style is not mine, I know that it reflects an intense passion and intellectual honesty. I also know that she is tenacious in ferreting out information on the many subjects that interest her, and engage her passion.”

    Nail on the head. She and some others here remind me of those pseudo-intellectual skinheads you sometimes come across on internet forums. Intense passion, no doubt they believe what they say with every fiber in their body and will do/say whatever is necessary to make other people accept their truth as the only truth. Cannot tolerate or respect opposing opinions or those who pose them. And of course a lack of any real knowledge of the subject beyond whatever cherry-picked “facts” fuel their own hatred.

    Hatred…it does amazing things to people. I’m sure she’s not a bad person in real life. I used to know skinheads in highschool who were in all honesty pretty cool people to hang out with when they weren’t ranting about their favourite subject.

    Comment by Bob From Canada — May 3, 2009 @ 11:01 pm

  80. Actually Michel I was referring to the Rite of Spring article which was the original subject of discussion.

    I explained in #32 and #34 the reasoning behind my strong suspicions that you either didn’t read it or at best superficially skimmed over it.

    Relevant quotes:

    “The reason as to why Russians in Eastern Ukraine or Estonia would have higher death rates is quite simple: drinking and smoking. Russian men in Russia could easily add a decade to their life expectancy if they drank less. Also, before Da Russophile comes back with official stats “showing” how alcohol consumption is not that high, I will preempt him…” – Michel

    “Many commentators believe that Russia’s excessively high mortality rates preclude a demographic recovery – an example of this line of reasoning appears in Rising Ambitions, Sinking Population by Nicholas Eberstadt. It is certainly true that Russia’s life expectancy is exceptionally low by industrialized-world standards and that death rates for middle-aged men today are, amazingly, no different from those of late Tsarism. This development is almost entirely attributable to the extreme prevalance of binge drinking of hard spirits. Yet their conclusions don’t follow the arguments.” – myself in Rite of Spring

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 3, 2009 @ 11:06 pm

  81. To be honest Da Russophile, you write so much verbiage, that I am surprised that you you do not get lost in your own writing.

    Comment by Michel — May 3, 2009 @ 11:09 pm

  82. Da Russophile,

    I rereading your article a second time, this is your main point:

    “Considering that Russia’s desired fertility is around 2.5, this means that in the presence of good conditions, its “natural” TFR can be expected be lie somewhere between 1.7 and 2.1 children. It is true that the phenomenally rapid jump in the TFR from 1.3 in 2006 to about 1.5 in 2008 was helped by the pro-natality campaign, but there are deeper factors at work. According to the Levada Center for sociological research, there were a number of positive discontinuities in Russia life from 2006 on.”

    Again, wishful thinking. You main premise is that with the surging “confident conservatism” will bring about a demographic rebound. However, much like your hope for a surging economy, it is not a realistic expectation. You are counting your demographic chicks before they hatch.

    I have one question. Why are you still living in the United States? You should be in Russia doing your part to bring about Green Communism.

    Comment by Michel — May 3, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

  83. “There is also the issue of HIV which is completely ignored by the current Russian Putinocracy.”

    According to UNAIDS: “The Russian Federation has demonstrated a high-level commitment in response to the AIDS epidemic.”

    “A new Federal AIDS Program for 2007 – 2011 was also developed and adopted. Federal funding for the national AIDS response in 2006 had increased more than twentyfold compared to 2005, and the 2007 budget doubled that of 2006, adding to the already substantial funds provided by the main donor organizations.”

    Oh but hey, why look up facts when you can just spout out complete bullshit instead? I won’t stop you.

    Comment by Bob From Canada — May 4, 2009 @ 3:01 am

  84. Once Russians who have been doing business with this person or group of persons find out what they’ve been up to (running a hate site for the past three years) their reaction is probably going to be similar to what members of black Atlanta polite society would do if they found out that one of their best white friends had secretly been writing for the Ku Klux Klan. Sever the relationship. And no one in Lubyanka is going to make a phone call and tell them to do it. People can think for themselves without being a part of some dark conspiracy.

    Comment by Charles Ganske — May 4, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  85. And P.S. Ganske, since you keep threatening LR….

    It’s fascinating that LR must-be-denounced is the common theme by these folks. I noticed today in my daily trip to Robert Amsterdam’s blog that Timothy Post had surfaced in the comments almost as if on command to denounce LR, he hasn’t been around for awhile. Among his usual inane pro-Putin comments was a specific admonishment of LR. That piece in his comments:

    “Actually, I would argue that James’ commentary on Russia, in general, and Putin, in particular, does take potshots. Additionally, I would question why you would promote those commentators whose language gets awfully close to hate speech (read: La Russophobe) by posting links to “their” website in your sidebar and by reprinting blog posts which they have written.”

    That’s a pretty transparent appeal for censorship.

    Is the timing a coincidence or is this an organized cabal or just that paranoid dogmatic minds think alike? Criticism equals hate speech is the common ploy, plus, any anti-Putin dissenter must have a nefarious motive or belong to a sponsored anti-Russia group.

    I’ve followed LR’s blog for years, she serves a useful role in aggregating the worst of Putin’s Russia in her unique style. Hey, it’s her blog, her efforts, her opinions and if at times she is sometimes a little heavy handed with hyperbole that’s her prerogative.

    I’m beginning to admire her more for the enemies that she keeps.

    Comment by penny — May 4, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

  86. R,
    Let’s sum this up for the Professor. R, you obviously think being publically associated with what you anonymously write about real people online, falsely accusing them of all sorts of terrible things, is a threat. I don’t. Sooner or later, whether your “Wretchard the Cat” or “Spengler”, we all have to come clean or go away. And as far as the other anonymous posters here present, I do not think you can compare the digust someone who has been libeled for daring to have a different point of view about Russia justifiably feels to how the people behind an anonymous Internet personage feels when their “character” gets attacked by The Exile for her alleged weight, loathing of young Russian women, etc. To constantly accuse American expats living and working in Russia of failing to disclose their business interests when they write something positive about the country is lame. Everybody knows that you say more good things about the place where you operate, ask your local chamber of commerce, I doubt they’ll tell you that your town is a dump. I just enjoy promoting the work of entrepreneurs, both Russian and American, who have actually put Russians to work so that they can afford Internet access and, if they choose, go read Oleg Kozlovsky online if they please. But I think most of them have better things to do, like go to the Bolshoi or make babies. Most Americans don’t care about politics either, and they are right not to obsess over it. States where politics is everything are states on the verge of civil war or collapse.

    I promote U.S.-Russia business and finally burying the Cold War legacy (including pointing out institutions that were set up to operate as anti-Moscow during that conflict and zombie-like, have continued – how else do you explain Jackson-Vanik?) once and for all. I feel that only prosperity from the bottom up will change Russian society for the better, and the same with China. A policy of confrontation and trying to promote internal unrest in these countries would only make them truly fascistic, and lead to another world war. I spent much of my four years at UT studying WWI and WWII, my mentors were professors who specialized in those areas, God knows I never want to see that again even if we’re headed for another Depression. As people’s material situation improves, and yet they remain unhappy, they will start to ask more fundamental questions about their political freedoms, their spirituality, what they value etc. But all the top down strategies, from Peter the Great to Gaidar/Chubais shock therapy, have failed miserably or generated the Soviet tyranny, the likes of which the Mensheviks and those who supported the Bolsheviks before they took power could never have imagined.

    All of this is why I am very shocked as to why the Professor, a man obviously of libertarian inclinations, skeptical of Washington’s ability to fix American banks much less solve the Middle East conflict or stabilize Ukrainian politics, thinks it’s so important for the U.S. to pressure the present Russian government by provoking it in its own back yard rather than let the Russian people solve their own problems. Not counting the collapse of the USSR, which needed to happen and may or may not have possibly had a softer landing, the last time a doddering but slowly reforming Russian political structure was overthrown in 1917, things immediately went from bad to worse. Don’t make that same mistake again by turning liberalism into a kind of neo-Bolshevik faith in the ability of the State, if only angels like Kasparov were running the show with Anders Aslund whispering in their ear, to reform the crooked timber of Russian humanity. I notice that both you and the Professor seem to think their is some closeted religious agenda behind everything I do. Well, I don’t hide the fact that I believe that human beings are prone to error and sin, and that affects politics at the simplest levels, both here and in Russia. My realism is not the Kissingerian type but the Niebuhr type. Conservatism ceased to exist in Washington when the temptations to push things along (“faster please” as Michael Ledeen liked to say) became too great.

    As for this idea that I can’t stand anyone who has a negative view of modern Russia, please. I occasionally read what Robert Amsterdam writes. Although I have sometimes poked fun at his “anybody but Russia, Europe should buy gas from Iran” views on energy, I take what he writes seriously. Amsterdam’s views are fairly mainstream for Washington (even if I think this is unfortunate on many issues). I know he represents Khodorkovsky, but he operates transparently, and I doubt he is Googling me right now trying to find dirt for the next “Neo Soviet Screwball” “Servant of the Beast” — whatever the hate post is for this week. Amsterdam isn’t accusing people he doesn’t like of cross dressing or photoshopping Hitler mustaches on their photos like the childish La Russophobe clan. He has better things to do with his time.

    R, you obviously feel very strongly about Russia after seeing so many Russian kids abandoned by their parents and trying to place them with loving adoptive parents here in the U.S. I sincerely hope these strong feelings did not lead you to join an anonymous collective of cyberthugs that occasionally libels people like me for daring to have a more optimistic point of view about the future of Russia. I think we would agree that falsely accusing a 27 year old guy from Texas of being on the payroll of the Kremlin or being part of some fascist theocratic conspiracy is not doing anything for anyone in Russia. I think we could also agree that the U.S. and Russia continuing the Cold War is pretty silly, unless we want to wage a war to see which side can print money faster and owe the other more debt. I haven’t heard your thoughts on China owning $2 trillion of U.S. debt, but I would imagine that even you might agree with Yuri Mamchur that Kudrin had better things to invest all that oil money into than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac paper (here is where we get into the territory of the Professor calling me an ideological “chameleon”, since we’re not supposed to refer to foreigners owning our debt, call it the unpatriotic argument for fiscal conservatism).

    I would also agree with you that outing you as a member of the La Russophobe collective isn’t going to help anyone in Russia either, though you might think twice before just making up more stuff about me. There are obviously both men and women writing for LR, whether posing as Zigeld or contributors who don’t exist anywhere else and could be pseudonyms like “David Essel” — hence my confusion about the LR collective’s gender. And obviously for at least one person in the LR collective, it’s more than a hobby. I do think the public has a right to know who would fund such a black PR project — whether they are old fart Cold Warriors in D.C. trying to save missile defense from cancellation, exiled Russian oligarchs, whomever. When someone gets the smoking gun IP address or those donors come forward, I’ll be around.

    But even if none of that happens, I can live with that, since anyone who knows me laughs at all these accusations. They get them in their Google alerts and then email me the posts with smiley faces.

    Comment by Charles Ganske — May 6, 2009 @ 2:22 am

  87. Dear Russophile, repeating something over and over again does not make it true. You write: “However, this has little bearing on the demographic argument – because I repeat, the HIV epidemic is contained within the injecting drug user population,” yet the statistics demonstrate that this is not the case (as I have pointed out a number of times).

    According to Russian stats: as of 2007, heterosexual contact was the reported cause of HIV transmission in 34.4% of reported cases of HIV/AIDS. This number has been growing since 2000 when it represented only 4.2% of HIV/AIDS cases (source: http://hivrussia.ru). This number clearly demonstrates that the epidemic is not “contained within the injecting drug user population” as you continue repeating like a chant to make the truth go away.

    Comment by Michel — May 6, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

  88. http://www.sublimeoblivion.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/aids_causes.png

    And it has been at around 30-40%…since 2003. Whereas if it were in fact a full-fledged epidemic it have continued growing exponentially.

    Now why don’t you try to explain these two charts-

    http://www.sublimeoblivion.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/hiv_testing.png
    http://www.sublimeoblivion.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/hiv_pregnant.png

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 6, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

  89. Da Russophile writes: “And it has been at around 30-40%…since 2003. Whereas if it were in fact a full-fledged epidemic it have continued growing exponentially.”

    Yes, I will concur that Russia is not in a full-fledged epidemic (yet). However, there are still roughly 40,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS reported every year and more will have to be done, even as the state will have less money and resources to spend.

    According to UNAIDS: “There are about 400 prevention projects carried out within the framework of the National Priority Health Project. However the HIV epidemic keeps on spreading. While progress has been made in HIV treatment, screening and prevention of mother-to-child transmission other HIV prevention interventions need improvement.”

    So, I agree that Russia has done some things right, the question is whether they could have done more and whether they could have spent more money on the health and well-being of their citizens. I would say yes, they could have done a lot more.

    Source: http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/Resources/FeatureStories/archive/2009/20090310_UARussia.asp

    Comment by Michel — May 6, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  90. Ultimately, how is this relevant?

    Russia Blog, or the Real Russia Project, has never espoused a theocratic agenda. What it does promote, from what I’ve read there, is greater US-Russian understanding and cooperation. I quite support that and I am totally cool with them publishing or republishing my articles, both in service of that noble goal, and to get greater publicity for my own work, because let’s face it, Sublime Oblivion doesn’t have a tenth of the influence and reach RB has.

    Even if they do get funding from DI, it’s pretty obvious that DI’s religious projects are strictly compartmentalized from RB and I for one would have no problems taking money from them should they offer it with no strings attached. (If anything it’s less money for their theocratic propaganda.)

    PS. It is also pretty ridiculous to say RB serves “Putinocracy” because of its unwillingness to take a line on questions such as American NGO’s involvement in color revolutions or the level of US involvement in or prior knowledge of Georgia’s attack on S. Ossetia in August 2008.

    I should stress that what I’ve said is strictly my own, relatively uninformed opinion (frankly, I don’t really care which organizations have associations with which other organizations), and should not in any way be taken to reflect the views of Charles or anyone else affiliated to RB and the RRP.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 6, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  91. Michel, you’ve misunderstood something. (Actually the person who wrote that blog post did, and it looks like you didn’t bother to check the original source before repeating his mistake). Those are two different figures, both for 2007. 34% of overall new infections were from heterosexual contact, but for women it was 63%. We do not yet know figures for 2008.

    Comment by Bob From Canada — May 7, 2009 @ 3:33 am

  92. Michel, the comment I made last night has not appeared yet. I don’t know what’s up, so in case it’s lost forever I’ll recap what I wrote. (if it does appear SWP can feel free to delete it or this one).

    The blog article you quoted from made a mistake. If you check the source that he cites, it says that 63% of new female infections are through sexual contact, while 34% of overall new infections were through heterosexual contact. Both figures are for 2007, and the article was written last year. That’s why you should never use a blog as a source.

    I made a polite comment on his article correcting his mistake, now lets wait and see if he allows the comment or admits/fixes the error. My guess is he will do neither.

    And I agree that they haven’t done everything right. I don’t think any government can make a claim to doing everything right.

    Comment by Bob From Canada — May 7, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

  93. One final thing DR, if you are implying that the comments that you allege on LR are extreme, I would cite your own words to me earlier in this thread: “That’s too bad, because I couldn’t care less about the opinion of a lame-ass Canuck ancestor of cheese-eating surrender monkeys, go do something useful for once and get me some furs. ;)” Given that you live in a glass house, you should not be throwing any stones dear Russophile.

    Comment by Michel — May 7, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

  94. Ok Professor, I get it. This is your madhouse, and you can let the inmates run it any way they want. If there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s private property rights. If some of your friends want to be able to write whatever crazy stuff they want about real people who use their real names online while remaining anonymous — well, as you said, there are plenty of other forums where people can ask why this person would rather not be publically associated with what they write and name their names. And the initials which tipped me off indeed aren’t so anonymous anyhow, thanks to Facebook. Perhaps the only things your friend and La Russophobe have in common is the same annoying habits of asking me “have you stopped beating your wife lately” questions and obsessively Googling me. But she darn near had me convinced. Anyway, how did they miss all those articles I wrote for Cascadia and the Puget Sound Business Journal back in 2006? And why would she expect me to say more about my experiences in Russia, both good and bad, when there are freaks like LR out there ready to spin it into some dark conspiracy theory?

    For what it’s worth, I have not had time to digest Anatoly’s blog, as with his April Fool’s Day spoof of La Russophobe hacking his blog, I take some of what he writes with a grain of salt. On the topic of strange bedfellows, I find it equally bizarre that you or the Heritage Foundation could all merrily agree with George Soros about Russia (and incidentally, Georgia and Ukraine). But there it is. I don’t think it’s appropriate for a tenured faculty member at a major Texas university to gleefully tell people to “watch their six” then accuse them of being the ones who are obsessed. One of my mentors from UT Law School (and no R that wasn’t Marvin Olasky, I never saw or talked to him after my freshman year at Texas) said that’s called “don’t piss on my boots and tell me it’s raining.”

    Comment by Charles Ganske — May 8, 2009 @ 3:04 am

  95. Those interested in actual facts about Russia’s demographic crisis as reported by internationally recognized Rusisan experts may want to read their nearly 200-page report:

    http://www.undp.ru/documents/NHDR_2008_Eng.pdf

    Published by the UN, it’s shall we say a little bit more compelling than the silly nonsense being spouted by the Russophile trash jabbering crazily on this thread.

    Comment by La Russophobe — May 8, 2009 @ 9:45 am

  96. Dear Russophile,

    Yes, I understood that it was your lame attempt at humour, but it goes to show that a comment taken out of context can be easily misconstrued. It is hard to judge the comments without seeing them in their context. Likewise, I empathize with Ukrainians and other former peoples of the USSR who call Russians “Moscali.” Given their history with Russians and the decades of Russian chauvinism they had to endure, it is evident that this leaves some bitterness. The problem is that Russians have never truly acknowledged their past wrongs (notably the Holodomor) and instead continue to treat the countries around them as colonial subjects. Hardly a way to make friends and influence people.

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — May 8, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  97. OK Michel

    1) I quoted the entire “George” quote and even linked there – http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/in-putins-russia-they-free-the-rapist-murderers-and-jail-the-mothers/. Arguing its out of context is utterly ridiculous and wrong.

    2) So I presume you’d then be just OK with old farts from the KKK calling for the lynching of n–ers (with an “er”)? Presumably, they too would have quite a bit of bitterness against blacks what with post-1960’s civil rights and political correctness …

    3) OK, perhaps 2) was over the top but your attitude – that apparent “Russian chauvinism” (hard to comprehend given that 90% of Ukrainians have a positive view of Russia and a majority would be willing to enter into an EU-like confederation with it and Belarus) – excuses racism from them is pretty vile. And no, George was quite clearly not joking – he was anticipating his little fantasy of a Chinese genocide of Moskali (and as such was in fact bigoted not only against Russians, but Chinese as well).

    4) I wonder if you’ll go off about my glass houses like a broken tape again…

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 8, 2009 @ 5:58 pm

  98. Dear Da Russophile,

    1. Yes, arguing that it is out of context makes sense. I prefer to read the comment in its entirety and in the thread.

    1. No, because the old “farts” were the oppressors or the descendants of the oppressors or at some point benefited from the oppression. When they are calling African-American rude epithets they are seeking to maintain inequalities. Their bitterness comes not from the oppression they suffered, rather it comes from the anger of believing they are losing their privileged status as oppressors. I have no sympathy for them. However, I do have greater empathy for the African-Americans who were truly oppressed and some of whom are likely to feel some bitterness. It is understandable. Likewise, I would understand the anger of the Jews (and others) who survived the Holocaust and the Tutsi who survived the Rwanda genocide. For the same reason, I can understand the continued anger and frustration of some people from the various populations that were colonized in Imperial Russia and the Imperial Soviet State.

    3. Again, you are once again exaggerating the facts. You interpret wanting to having trade ties and not closing the border between Ukraine and Russia as supporting a “EU-like confederation.” Again, twisting facts to suit your agenda and repeating it ad nauseum does not make it true.

    4. Speaking of broken tapes, you repeat the same information over and over as fact.

    Da Russophile, you have yet to answer my question. Why are you still living in the United States? Why aren’t you living in Russia?

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — May 8, 2009 @ 10:36 pm

  99. “Don’t be such a drama queen”. That would actually be your friend, but maybe she’s the type who calls everyone with a Hope and Change bumper sticker on their car a Commie traitor before breakfast, and so I shouldn’t take it personally. As for the rest here, presumably they’ll be out at the next Cinco de Mayo rally yelling at everyone present why they haven’t gone back to Mexico…

    Comment by Charles Ganske — May 9, 2009 @ 9:55 am

  100. @Michel,

    You are a broken tape on all your 5 points. And a loathsome propagandistic reptile to boot.
    Bye.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 9, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

  101. Dear Da Russophile,

    Your true colors are showing. When one does not accept your false premises you start with the ad hominem attacks.

    Michel

    Comment by Michel — May 9, 2009 @ 12:55 pm

  102. Michel, I’m not going to speak for DR here, but why would he leave behind his family, friends, job, girlfriend(?), education, and entire life to start from scratch in a country half-way across the world just for the simple fact that he was born there? I’ve never seen DR claim that Russia was a better country than where he lives. Your question is nonsensical and no better than an ad hominem attack. The fact that you keep harassing him about it every time you get defeated in an argument is annoying even for me. At least come up with something new.

    And why haven’t you responded to my previous post re AIDS? You were wrong again, at least man up and admit it.

    Comment by Bob From Canada — May 9, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

  103. Why should Da Russophile go live in Russia? Quite simply. It is some hypocritical to preach the coming glory of Russia when you do not want to live there yourself. As for your comment, I answered all issues. If there is anything that you thing that I overlooked, please ask again. I am not going to read through 169 posts to find something that I may have missed. Feel free to enlighten us once again.

    Comment by Michel — May 9, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  104. Funny how you didn’t address any of my points. Just because I don’t move to Sweden doesn’t mean I don’t want to live in Sweden. It means I’m happy in Canada, because this is where my life is. And if I want to make a blog and argue about how amazing Sweden is, or more accurate to this situation, how Sweden isn’t the scum of the universe facing every known catastrophe to man, that would not make me a hypocrite.

    And just how hard is it to do a page search for “Bob From Canada”..? I told you it was my previous post. Maybe if you spent more time reading and fact checking and less time trying to think of ways to undermine people’s arguments with personal smears regarding their real life (while staying anonymous like a true coward) you wouldn’t constantly be coming off as a total simpleton by citing blatantly wrong statistics and botching simple grade school math (Ruble devaluation anyone?)

    Comment by Bob From Canada — May 9, 2009 @ 11:58 pm

  105. Bob, at the end of the day, the ruble was devalued, Russia’s GDP is being hit quite hard. As for personal smears, well you and DR are the experts in that department. I bow to your expertise.

    Comment by Michel — May 10, 2009 @ 1:18 am

  106. Listen to Russia experts discussing Russia’s population crisis here:

    http://worldfocus.org/blog/2009/05/05/tune-in-online-radio-show-on-russias-population-in-peril/5279/

    Comment by La Russophobe — May 10, 2009 @ 7:11 am

  107. You read far too deeply into something I dashed off in a couple of minutes. As I said the main reason is that it is wholly irrelevant. You don’t give out anything other than your first name (?) and that you live in Canada, there’s no reason for me to divulge anything more than I deem necessary.

    And Bob has refuted the (factual) errors in the quoted Paul Goble article in a post above. I can understand his reasons for not bothering to retrieve it when it is so easy for you to just press Ctrl-F, type in “Bob from Canada” and find it yourself within one or two minutes.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 10, 2009 @ 2:13 pm

  108. Bob from Canada writes: “A better question is why an anonymous poster is so interested in the real lives of people he’s arguing with on the internet.”

    Quite simple: having a discussion about Russia with a Russophile who has never been to Russia is a pretty pointless exercise.

    As for Da Russophile, call it an exercise to better understand his psyche. What we write is shaped by our life experiences, and yes I am trying to probe into Da Russophile to know what makes him tick. Me bad LOL.

    But, given that I am always accused of “making personal attacks and smears” I will henceforth not reply to either of you. You and Da Russophile can go play in your little sandbox together and build ideal little Russias in the sand.

    Comment by Michel — May 10, 2009 @ 7:25 pm

  109. DR,Bob,Charles:

    Let me explain LR’s agenda:
    she is part of the neo-con greater Israel crowd. They percieve Russia as the only
    entity capable of sandbagging their agenda, henceforth the vitriol. She is a fanatic
    of the first degree and a pitiful person.

    Russia’s population:

    there are 2 outcomes possible

    1:) as Putin/Shuvalov/Kudrin et al continue the developement/diversification of Russia’s economy the population will bottom out and rise from there. Where it will bottom who knows.
    The decreasing population will not effect Russia’s GDP and growth prospects for the following reasons:
    1. Russia productivity still has not caught up to the west. Productivity per worker is anywhere from 2/3 to half of that in the west.
    2. Many towns founded during the Soviet era are economically unfeasible and thus depopulating.

    2:) As illustrated in this 1 minute video population growth has moved lockstep with the exploitation of fossil fuels. For millenia population barely creeped up but with
    the advent of the steam engine powered by coal pop began to explode reaching a frenzied pace with the exploitation of oil.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz2UY4n4las

    the advent of peak oil will lead to a general population decline with Russia being the least affected due to its abundant resources:
    the best soil, most fresh water, most gas, and lots of oil. However Russia would probably have to deal with massive migration from Europe.
    The outcome of peak oil is murky for Russia.

    Comment by djp — May 10, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

  110. […] 14.5 / 1000 this year, changed from 12.1 / 1000 and 14.8 / 1000 in 2008″ were dismissed and ridiculed by some (not by everyone […]

    Pingback by Russia’s Demographic Resilience II | Sublime Oblivion — September 26, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

  111. Bob Post Nr177:

    “You mean those links that cite incorrect statistics, probably on purpose, for chumps like you to eat up like candy? Believe what you want (as you clearly do), but I won’t poison my own mind with that sort of manipulative propaganda.”

    Michel is an expert at this. S/He has attempted to calculate Russia’s reserves were like below $200bn and attempted to claim there were no forex reserves (at robertamsterdam.com, can’t be bothered to find link). The most amazing thing that when confronted s/he insisted until me and someone else provided links from western media and institutions (Bloomberg included) that showed the reserves at over $300bn at the time (can’t remmmber exact amount) and then gave us the pleasure of disappearing in grace. S/He is a systematic and pathologica liar perhaps to a greater extent than LaRussophobe itself. Don’t be at all surprised.

    “And yes, I have been to Russia. Or maybe I haven’t. Then again maybe I live in Russia and my real name is Ivan. people have been known to lie on the internet. A better question is why an anonymous poster is so interested in the real lives of people he’s arguing with on the internet. Could it possibly be that you can’t argue without making personal attacks and smears?”

    No, s/he can’t. (S/he can’t even when s/he does make personal attacks but anyway.)

    Larussophobe:

    “It’s a pity you seem to have missed my blog’s recent post on this subject”
    It is never a pity when anybody misses a post on your blog on any subject. It is luck.

    “Michel you and your fine Russian language skills…
    Since when were “fine” language skills evidence in favor of one’s argumentation? What do they have to do with the topic? It’s a pity Michel’s English “skills” are not so fine, after all it’s the language s/he predominatly gives his/ her performances in? E.g “Even women who had planned to their pregnancy are deciding to go for an abortion.” Most normal people plan something, michel is obviously a case that plans TO something. I’m

    are truly the bane of the insane Russophile.”
    Really, next thing you know they’ll all be jumping out of windows unable to cope Michel’s Shakesperean English….

    “It’s almost like you were put on earth just to drive them out of their “minds”. ”
    Well Michel might have a purpose in life (although it’s more likely he came out of the sea and was not placed upon earth), it’s indeed considerably more than what can be said of you.

    “But this silly little goat goes on bleeting,”
    The lattershould be meant self-referentially.

    “asking the world to ignore what is happening and consign the people of Russia once again to the dustbin of history.”

    Ignoring what is happening is what you do best Larussophobe and hopefully the blogosphere will consign you to the dustbin of history (more than a priviledge in your case)for it.

    My own relevant contribution:
    Those intelligent life forms that have posted comments may want to seek Russia’s demographics for August. It’s not much but it is probably quite a bane for Larussophobe and its followers.

    Comment by gdp — November 8, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

  112. […] a renewed fertility collapse and higher deaths from alcoholism (which I challenged in the face of heavy opposition), Russia saw its first two months of natural population growth for the last 15 years in August and […]

    Pingback by Official Russia | Ten Myths about Russia’s Demography — January 19, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

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