A Meeting With A Demographer

Today I had the pleasure of meeting up with Nick Eberstadt, an analyst at the AEI who specializes in Korea and Russian demography. He was dropping by SF and we had drinks at the excellent Samovar Tea Lounge.

As readers will know, we do obviously have many disagreements on Russia demography, with Eberstadt representing the “pessimistic” side and myself, the more optimistic one; and his assumptions and methods have at times been objects of criticism at this blog. If I may be so bold, recent data – population growth since 2008, and perhaps even a natural increase this year – has, at least thus far, favored the “optimistic” variants more than the “pessimistic” ones (though one can validly argue that the “echo effect” of the 1990’s baby bust has yet to make its play).

Nonetheless, I should emphasize that he is a deeply knowledgeable and conscientious scholar, who is receptive to new data and convincing counter-arguments, and a very interesting and entertaining conversationalist in person. It would be good for Russia watchers in general to meet up more often, as online interaction just isn’t the same thing. If you’re ever passing by the Bay Area, feel free to drop me a line.


  1. Sounds like fun. Yeah, real-life conversation still rules. Hope you had some influence on him!

  2. So…? According to him when last Russian will die out?

  3. Molodets!

  4. From Eberstadt’s “The Dying Bear” (Nov/Dec 2011): “Russia is suffering an extraordinarily and seemingly unending mortality crisis, in which health conditions are deteriorating and are further fueling high death rates”.

    I hope you updated him on recent developments regarding Russia’s demographics. One cannot claim that Russia’s mortality figures are cheerful but it is moving in the right direction. Surely, a five-year improvement of life-expectancy over the past six years ought to be recognized as progress.

    • erik philipsen says:

      Would welcome an authoritative source for this, to counter midinfo i Danish main media. to

  5. “(though one can validly argue that the “echo effect” of the 1990′s baby bust has yet to make its play).”

    But you can’t blame eevul Putin for that! That was the the Anglosphere’s darling FreeMarketDemocracy-loving drunken incompetent buffoon Yeltsin’s doing!

  6. I’ve been working on Spengler’s end for some much needed demographic optimism/hope. Or at least, to use his words, in Eastern Europe Russia is the leper with the most fingers (but that’s too dark, even Poland deserves some love since it’s going to be the Israel of the 21st century, right George Friedman?)

    • Friedman suggested that Poland, Mexico and Turkey would be major powers this century. I think he threw darts at a world map to come up with this conclusion.

      • Of course the gradual rise of ever larger entities such as the United States, the Soviet Union, now China, all displacing demographic midgets with meager landmass such as the UK, France, Germany…is a perfect indication that the future belongs to Poland, Mexico and Turkey!

      • Poland has been doing quite well economically. It has neither the size nor the population to ever become a “great power” or “superpower” but it could certainly attain something close to UK or France status.

        • Actually I agree with you, although I think Spain (which has approx. the same population) might be a better comparison.

          • In terms of population, yes. The reason I thought of the UK or France is because in 20 years Poland has gone from post-Communist poverty (judging by the Polish guestworkers and traders in Kiev in 1991, even poorer than Ukraine!) to the 6th largest economy in the EU. It is conceivable that in another 20 years it will economically be on par, per capita, with the UK or France which would probably make it more significant than Spain is now.

            • Who knows maybe per capita income in PL would be HIGHER than in the UK in fifteen years, given Third World immigration and Orwellian police state/financial repression measures (on top of the trash celebrity worship and booze culture) slowly being introduced into Great Britain.

  7. *Clap clap clap* So, are you saying that he ISN’T a demonic AEI shill for a neo-imperial Republican Party that wants nothing more than the wholesale destruction of the Russian population? Didn’t think so. I think the blogosphere can be a pretty polarizing place, and just getting together to have meaningful discussions about mutual interests can be extraordinarily helpful. Maybe we should organize a conference or something.

    • Please stop trolling. I have never said any of those things about Eberstadt, as even a cursory search of his name on this blog would reveal.

      • You misread me, Anatoly: I’m trying to pay you a compliment! I did not suggest that YOU said such things, I was making a general comment about the polarizing nature of such debates on the blogosphere. Things can get pretty heated, and people make all sorts of reductionist fallacies. (See, for instance, the second reply here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2011/10/31/a-reply-to-nicholas-eberstadts-the-dying-bear-russias-demographics-are-not-exceptional/). I’m saying that I genuinely appreciate that you’ve broken out of the bounds of the computer screen, and had what appears to be a fruitful exchange of ideas with someone with whom you don’t see eye to eye. I apologize if it came across as anything other than a compliment–but perhaps even this is another manifestation of the same problem: without face-to-face contact, it is hard to parse-out what is sincere and what is sarcastic. We naturally gravitate to the latter, I fear. Take care.

  8. Anatoly,

    FT Alphaville has a blog post up on Russian demographics.

    It seems you’re right!


    Though most of the comments show that denial runs deep…