Russian population in steep decline

Russia's population fell by more than half a million, or 0.3 per cent, in the first eight months of the year, new statistics show. Figures from the State Statistics Committee predict a further population decline of 11 million, to about 134 million, in the world's largest country by 2015.

And the problem may be getting worse. The net loss of 507,400 people in the eight months to September 1st is greater than in all of 1999.

Causes of decline:

  • Drug use, alcoholism and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are leading reasons for the decline, said Murray Feshbach, a senior scholar at the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson Centre.

  • About 15 per cent of Russian couples are infertile, he said.

  • And as many as 75 per cent of women experience serious medical problems during pregnancy.

  • The official fertility rate – understood as the average number of children a woman has between the ages of 15 and 49 – was 1.17 in 1999.

  • The minimum rate for a population to replace itself is 2.5, Feshbach said.

    STDs are a major cause of concern, he said.

    "There's syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HIV/Aids, prostitution," he said.

    He estimates that there are between 450,000 and 500,000 cases of syphilis in Russia, out of a population of 145 million.

    "It affects the quality of new-born children," he said.

    Source: Russian population in steep decline, British Broadcasting Corporation, October 24, 2006.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 31 October 2006
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