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Streetwise Professor

March 28, 2011

Demographic Decline Continues

Filed under: Economics,Russia — The Professor @ 7:14 pm

Last year, some wild-eyed optimists suggested that Russia’s 2010 census would actually show that population had increased by as much as 1 million since the last census, in 2002.

Better luck next time.  The preliminary census results are in, and Russia’s population declined 2.2 million, or 1.6 percent.

Debates over demographic issues are ongoing in the comments–in posts completely unrelated to demographics, but that’s the way things go around here.  I imagine that this news will spark a similarly intense debate.

I realize that 8 years is a long time, and that it is possible that the population decline has slowed, bottomed out, or even turned around during the last couple of years.  I’d be interested in seeing any evidence that would support that view.  Have at it, folks.

Color me skeptical.  Russia still has serious, serious public health problems, notably AIDS and multi-drug resistant TB.  With regards to the latter, the WHO recently issued a report indicating that Russia has the third largest number of infections in the world.  Consider.  China has almost 10 times the population as Russia, but only about double the number of infections, meaning that Russia’s infection rate is about 5 times China’s.  The ratio is only slightly better when compared to India.  These problems are bad in themselves, but are symptomatic of deeper problems that have baleful implications for Russian health and the potential for population growth.

Alcohol is of course a serious problem too.  But maybe there is good news.  Some Russians are reducing their consumption of vodka.  Unfortunately, they’re substituting whiskey.  This line is priceless:

“I actually find that countries with a strong history of distillation are usually more responsive to Scotch whisky, and this is especially true of Russia,” he told The Moscow Times in e-mailed comments.

I’ll bet.  I’d also bet it will be an uphill struggle, to say the least, for the country to record a population increase by the time of the next census.

And no, I won’t be persuaded by arguments that it’s worse in Latvia.

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27 Comments »

  1. Russian vodka is made through rectification, followed by dilution, not distillation. The former is not doable at home, AFAIK. The purpose of the standard was to put alcohol production under state control in 1890s. The upside is that it’s ethanol at its purest. No hangovers! The downside (according to some killjoys) is that just like distilled water is no good for you, neither is pure alcohol. Fastest way to alcoholism, and all that.

    Comment by So? — March 28, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

  2. Last year, some wild-eyed optimists suggested that Russia’s 2010 census would actually show that population had increased by as much as 1 million since the last census, in 2002.

    Who would that be? Everybody expected that the 2010 population would be lower than 2002′s. What wild-eyed optimists suggested was that Russia’s 2010 population would no longer show a decline compared with 2009.

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/census-shows-population-fall-of-16/433927.html
    The population stands at 142.9 million, down 1.6 percent, or 2.2 million, from 2002

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Demographics_of_Russia&oldid=352365752
    The population of Russia was 141,927,297 as of 1 January 2010.[2][3]

    Voila! One million growth in just one year. What a turnaround! That’s amazing, isn’t it?

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 28, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

  3. Last year, some wild-eyed optimists suggested that Russia’s 2010 census would actually show that population had increased by as much as 1 million since the last census, in 2002.

    Who exactly?

    I realize that 8 years is a long time, and that it is possible that the population decline has slowed, bottomed out, or even turned around during the last couple of years.

    http://www.gks.ru/free_doc/new_site/population/demo/demo11.htm
    http://www.gks.ru/bgd/free/b11_00/IssWWW.exe/Stg/dk01/7-0.htm

    2002 – 145,2
    2006 – 142,8
    2007 – 142,2
    2008 – 142,0
    2009 – 141,9
    2010 – 141,9

    It seems that Rosstat underestimated immigration, seeing as the Census indicates a population of 142.9 million.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — March 28, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

  4. Actually So? many Russians and Georgians have home made rectification stills, after all the process was developed by home distillers in the first place.
    Both dilution and distillation are easily done at home.

    I have had both home made Georgian Araki & Chacha, and Russian home made vodka of the highest quality.

    Comment by Andrew — March 29, 2011 @ 1:07 am

  5. As your source indicates, SWP, the “wild-eyed optimist” was actually State Statistics Service chief Alexander Surinov.

    Over at LR, we prefer the term “liar.” We feel it’s more apt. Though perhaps “moron” is somewhere in the mix, too. And so it goes in Putin’s Russia.

    Comment by La Russophobe — March 29, 2011 @ 6:05 am

  6. “And no, I won’t be persuaded by arguments that it’s worse in Latvia.”

    Um, why would anyone even think of trying to persuade a dog barking at a caravan??

    Comment by rkka — March 29, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  7. Are there any psychiatrists there to explain what LR meant? Where and when did Alexander Surinov “suggest that Russia’s 2010 census would actually show that population had increased by as much as 1 million since the last census, in 2002″?

    BTW, LR, are your former employers selling the “La Russophobe” site? I may be willing to pay as much as $50 for it.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 29, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

  8. @rkka–so I’m irrelevant; I can live with that, b/c (a) I write on this because it interests me, and for no other reason, and (b) I never asserted that people that matter in Russia pay the slightest bit of attention to me. Let’s assume that’s true: But then wtf are you doing here? Commenting on irrelevancies? Barking at dogs barking at caravans?

    And btw, when it comes to some things other than Russia, I can state with authority that SWP is more than just a barking dog. Is there anything you do about which you can say the same?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 29, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

  9. S/O–Flat line at best.

    Re the difference between Rosstat and the census–well, it could also be that the census results were fudged. The rise in the Omsk region seems curious, for instance.

    Have you seen any stats on ethnic breakdown and immigration? I read that population declines in predominately ethnic Russian regions were more pronounced (though the census did not release ethnic breakdowns).

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 29, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

  10. @SWP:

    Why would it be that the census, and not RosStat, results were fudged? Oh, I know why! Because RosStat results are lower, and you desire to see lower numbers.

    But if you don’t trust the census, why did you bring it up yourself? What is the purpose of your article about the results of the 2010 census, if you don’t trust them?

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 29, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

  11. Erm, first, Rosstat was responsible for the Census. Its older figures are just projections from the results of the previous Census, the one from 2002. That is standard practice for all demographic / statistics agencies. Small discrepancies between projections and Census results are common. Before the 2010 Census in the US, the Census Bureau projected 310.2 million people; in the event, the figure was 308.7 million.

    The Omsk region showed a 4.9% decline. Another day, another fail.

    Yes, it’s a well-known fact that other things being equal, some ethnic minorities – primarily the Chechens and some Asian Buddhist peoples – have fertility rates well above the Russian average. Their overall share of the population is low. The two biggest non-Russian minorities, the Tatars and Bashkirs, have fertility rates that are hard to distinguish from the Russian average.

    It takes some time to digest and present everything in a Census. Additional data, including ethnic breakdown and migration, will be released throughout the 2011-13 period.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — March 29, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

  12. “Why would it be that the census, and not RosStat, results were fudged? Oh, I know why! Because RosStat results are lower, and you desire to see lower numbers.”

    Yup. Another opportunity to vent spleen at the Russian government for being insufficiently submissive to the West.

    “But if you don’t trust the census, why did you bring it up yourself? What is the purpose of your article about the results of the 2010 census, if you don’t trust them?”

    I doubt he trusts either.

    Comment by rkka — March 30, 2011 @ 3:52 am

  13. @S/0-You originally distinguished b/t Rosstat and census figures: “It seems that Rosstat underestimated immigration, seeing as the Census indicates a population of 142.9 million.” Following your lead. Re Omsk, I misremembered–it was the Belograd region that showed the increase.

    @Always-on-a-bender: Get a clue. For once. Who in the Russian gov’t has an incentive to exaggerate the #s downwards? Nobody. Meaning that if there’s possibility of a deliberate distortion in the numbers, the direction would be obvious.

    Relatedly, if even the census #s show a decline, even if there is no deliberate distortion in the #s, the demographic picture is hardly encouraging.

    And re why discuss the results–well, it is a major issue, no? It is the most important long term issue for Russia, because it has so many implications–military, sociopolitical, you name it. So of course I’m going to write about it. And didn’t I ask for people to weigh in with data (as S/O did–but you didn’t. Surprise, surprise.)

    But the main reason I wrote the post is the sheer Skinnerian pleasure of triggering the conditioned response of you and your ilk. I mean I can play toreador anytime I want. The only dilemma is which cape to wave–the demographic cape, the Khodorkovsky cape, the Putin is a schmuck cape, and the best of all, the history cape.

    Ole!

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 30, 2011 @ 9:20 am

  14. Belgorod isn’t that surprising. It is orderly and relatively prosperous, not much unlike Belarus. Just as (until recently) Belarus was the only former Soviet state with a positive migration balance with Russia, so with Belgorod and the neighboring regions.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — March 30, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  15. But the main reason I wrote the post is the sheer Skinnerian pleasure of triggering the conditioned response of you and your ilk. I mean I can play toreador anytime I want. The only dilemma is which cape to wave–the demographic cape, the Khodorkovsky cape, the Putin is a schmuck cape, and the best of all, the history cape.

    Why stop at that? You have also waved the-packs-of-wild-dogs-roaming-Red-Square cape. You can wave many other capes. And the russophiles here will gladly make fun of you.

    The question is why does a respectable business school professor, whose expertise has nothing to do with Russia, devotes his blog time to attacking Russia and baiting those who love the Russian culture? Hate and negative emotions are harmful. And Russia is not the only object of your hatred. Obama is another. What demons drive you? What chips are riding on your shoulders?

    In any case, let’s summarize what happened here: you tried to make yourself happy by claiming that the 142.9 million figure from the latest census means a demographic disaster for Russia, your opponents got your clock cleaned and had a great laugh at your expense, and now you have to save face by claiming that you didn’t mean it seriously but only as a bait.

    You remind me of several kooks in Sci.Math who post false proofs, and when others point their mistakes, claim that they were just “baiting” mathematicians.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 30, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

  16. Thanks for the entertainment, Bender. For one thing: There are dogs roaming in Red Square. Deal with it. I’ve seen it. Up close. Get over it.

    Oh. Russophiles making fun of me. Breaks me all up. Especially since they make fools of themselves with their pathetic attempts to do so. You most of all. And clock cleaned? As if.

    I started writing about Russia due to my interest in energy. Which I know something about. And my interest in institutional economics. Which I also know something about. And the military. Which I know something about. And history. Which I also know something about.

    And I know you are confused, and that it is probably futile to even attempt to point out the difference to you, but despising Putin and the rent seeking thugs that rule Russia is a very different thing than attacking Russia, Russians, and/or Russian culture. If Putinism is your idea of Russian culture–well, that says far more about you and your real opinion of Russian culture than about me and mine. When, in fact, have I attacked or baited Russian culture, where that term is properly understood? Never. Period. Putin is not Russian culture. And thank God for that. It means that there is some hope.

    Re Obama. I think he’s taking the country on a fast ride to hell. You may disagree. It’s not a personal dislike. It’s an intellectually-based objection to his policies, foreign and domestic. No demons. No chips. Just calling it like I see it. You see it differently. Fine. Get your own blog. Like anybody would read it.

    I was not making myself happy re 142.9 was a demographic disaster. I didn’t even say it was a disaster. The post was by no means triumphal, celebratory, or disdainful. It reported a story, and asked for people to comment. The demographic situation is what it is. Are you going to suggest that it’s wonderful news? Indeed, your defensiveness suggests that you know how troubling it is.

    And that’s where I think you do no favors to Russia and Russians with your mindless boosterism. Any objective analysis of Russia reveals that it has serious problems, and that the demographic numbers and the related public health statistics are the most glaring evidence of that. I don’t point that out for perverse kicks. I point it out because it’s an important fact. If you really love Russia and Russians, your hair should be on fire trying to figure out why it’s happening and how to reverse it. But instead you just want to shriek at people that point it out, and show how Putinism is condemning the country to a slow death. That kind of attitude does no favors for those you claim to love.

    With friends like you, Russians need no enemies.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 30, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

  17. SWP wrote: “ When, in fact, have I attacked or baited Russian culture, where that term is properly understood?

    I don’t recall you doing that at all. But when did I say that you have?

    I was not making myself happy re 142.9 was a demographic disaster. I didn’t even say it was a disaster. The post was by no means triumphal, celebratory, or disdainful. It reported a story, and asked for people to comment.

    No. According to you, you posted it to bait others:

    But the main reason I wrote the post is the sheer Skinnerian pleasure of triggering the conditioned response of you and your ilk.

    Just look at this thread. Look at what S/O, So?, RKKA and I wrote above. We wrote reasoned arguments on this topic. One may disagree with them, but they were written in good faith. We treated you as an adult. And you respond with your infantile: “I started this discussion to bait you!” And you do it all the time:

    I mean I can play toreador anytime I want. The only dilemma is which cape to wave–the demographic cape, the Khodorkovsky cape, the Putin is a schmuck cape, and the best of all, the history cape.

    So, you are a troll. A self-admitted troll. A physically grown up man, who is supposed to teach our future business leaders, engaged in trolling and acting like a little child.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — March 31, 2011 @ 1:06 am

  18. The rent-seeking thugs have money, property, even families ensconced in the foggy Albion, Spain, Switzerland, etc… Meanwhile, the New Europe limitrophes are raising a racket about evil conniving Russkies subjugating poor naive Old Germany with their Nord Stream, with not a peep coming from the Germans themselves. I wonder why? After all, if the EU cheese-eating surrender monkeys were so alarmed by Russian encroachment, Gazputin, the “New Cold War”, “chekist goons”, etc., all they’d have to do is deny them visas and freeze their accounts. Since they don’t, all is fine. Thus the Audi man is not the bottom everyone assumes him to be. A power top more likely.

    Comment by So? — March 31, 2011 @ 1:51 am

  19. > I wonder why?

    That’s a simple one. The reason is Russia’s main export is not hydrocarbons, it is corruption.
    It’s not exactly like nobody outside the New Europe is raising the question: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703386704576186063881780854.html
    It’s just that New Europe is being hit harder and has more experience dealing with those rent-seeking thugs, for obvious reasons.

    Comment by Ivan — March 31, 2011 @ 3:06 am

  20. OSTAP, you are an illiterate braying jackass. Did you even try to read the source SWP quoted??

    It reads: “The population stands at 142.9 million, down 1.6 percent, or 2.2 million, from 2002, when the last national census was held, State Statistics Service chief Alexander Surinov said in a report published by Rossiiskaya Gazeta. He predicted in November, shortly after the census ended, that the population might actually see a 1 million uptick from 2002, a forecast that now stands debunked.”

    People like you make Russia look like nation of baboons. Is that your intention in making such utterly ridiculous public statements?

    Comment by La Russophobe — March 31, 2011 @ 4:56 am

  21. Old Europe – so innocent, so trusting, so naive.

    Comment by So? — March 31, 2011 @ 5:16 am

  22. “And that’s where I think you do no favors to Russia and Russians with your mindless boosterism. Any objective analysis of Russia reveals that it has serious problems, and that the demographic numbers and the related public health statistics are the most glaring evidence of that. I don’t point that out for perverse kicks. I point it out because it’s an important fact. If you really love Russia and Russians, your hair should be on fire trying to figure out why it’s happening and how to reverse it. But instead you just want to shriek at people that point it out, and show how Putinism is condemning the country to a slow death. That kind of attitude does no favors for those you claim to love.”

    There it is again, that faux concern for Russia. Back in 2006, you voiced this concern about Russia’s demographic and health indicators. They have since improved significantly, yet you vituperate the Russian government. Meanwhile, deaths in Latvia exceed births by almost 1.6:1. You confess you are at a loss to deal with Latvia’s problems. Obviously you have nothing useful to say about solutions for Russia, since your suggestions would most likely make Russia look more like Latvia, which is not a good thing.

    No, your postings are little more than snarling at a caravan.

    Comment by rkka — March 31, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

  23. > Back in 2006, you voiced this concern about Russia’s demographic and health indicators. They have since improved significantly

    Yeah, although this only happened in your wild imagination, it absolutely has to influence SWP’s analysis.
    Of the fundamental reasons behind Russia’s sub-Saharan life expectancy precisely zero have been seriously addressed. Stealing a billion dollars from medical equipment funds to build Putin’s Black Sea palace is not exactly conductive to health improvement in Russia.

    Comment by Ivan — March 31, 2011 @ 11:23 pm

  24. Preliminary census results show further decline of the percentage of men in Russia: from 46.6% of the population in 2002 to 46.3% in 2010 – a demographic phenomenon that is usually associated with catastrophes such as war. So much for “significant improvement”.

    Comment by Ivan — April 1, 2011 @ 1:17 am

  25. Well, well, Ivan has joined Andy in making wild claims unsupported by even a shred of evidence. An a$$-talking duet, as it were.

    Really, SWP, you really need to attract a better sort of Russophobe here.

    Comment by rkka — April 1, 2011 @ 5:53 am

  26. RKKA, you are one of the stupidest and most dishonest cretins on the face of this earth. You do not acknowledge that ANY Russophobe on the planet is intelligent or conducting himself properly, nor do you acknowledge that ANY Russophile is an idiot or acting improperly. Therefore you comment is utterly vacuous rubbish. You don’t offer a SINGLE WORD in it that has ANY relevance to the post you are commenting on, and as such are nothing more than a crude, vulgar thug and criminal, much less do you offer any real value of any kind.

    Really, SWP, you need to attract a better sort of Russophile here.

    Comment by La Russophobe — April 2, 2011 @ 7:01 am

  27. Phony, Phony, Phoby…

    It sure is fun to watch you froth and foam and spin yourself into a tizzy.

    Especially as it becomes clearer and clearer that Russia is recovering day by day.

    You hate that, I know, but it’s so much fun watching you spew your impotent bile.

    Comment by rkka — April 3, 2011 @ 8:46 am

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