Russia’s Demography Continues To Exceed Even *My* Most Optimistic Predictions

According to the latest data, in Jan-Aug 2012 there were 1,253,000 births (2011 – 1,171,000); 1,274,200 deaths (2011 – 1,299,800). Therefore, the rate of natural decrease plummeted from 128,800 in 2011 to just 21,200 this year. Bearing in mind that natural growth was about zero for the September-December period last year, this means that even a slight improvement over the next 5 months – that is, about 5,000 less monthly decrease – should finally nullify Russia’s two decades of natural population decrease.

Back in mid 2008 when I predicted that “natural population increase will occur starting from 2013 at the latest” most mainstream demographers would have considered me bonkers. But if anything the prediction now looks likely to be fulfilled one year early.

This would be the first (and only) year that Russia has seen natural population growth as not part of the USSR. The remarkable 7% increase in birth rates this year so far would imply a TFR of approximately 1.75 (2011 – 1.61), or the level of 1991; and the 2% drop in mortality would translate into an increase in the life expectancy from 70.3 years in 2011 to about 71 years in 2012. In terms of European demography, Russia has basically become a normal country.

UPDATE: Demoscope has a huge issue on demographic developments of the first half of the year. The graph below is especially striking.

Deaths from homicides are in red (now lower than for most of the late Soviet period). Transport accidents in blue at record lows, despite there being far more vehicles on the roads today. Suicides in yellow at a record low. Deaths from alcohol poisonings, in green, which to a substantial extent drive all the other deaths from external causes, have plummeted to such an extent that they are now slightly lower than at the height of Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign!


  1. AK, I found a news that says that a third of Russians want to leave their country, mostly young. It also says that in the last decade 1.2 million Russians left the country. What is your opinion?

    • Anatoly once wrote an excellent post at his Sublimeoblivion blog about the so called “Putin exodus”, which is yet another rubbish propaganda meme spread by the western media.

      1) Just look how emigration from Russia declined over the last decade (don’t mind the name of the url, the graph is correct and based on Rosstat data):

      2) It is quite obvious that most of those 1.2 million emigrants left Russia in the early 2000s and that was just an echo of the huge late 1980s-1990s emigration wave.

      3) Recently, c. 800,000 people left Germany each year – 1% of population. Compared to that 1.2 million emigrants from Russia – less than 1% of population in a decade – is a very modest figure.

      The claim that “a third of Russians want to leave their country” is likely an exaggeration. Anyway, as statistics shows, such a wish is rarely realised by modern Russians, and lots of Russians simply return back after study abroad or after a period of life/emigration in the West.

      • Right, and as with the capital flight of $80 billion per year that should have drained Russia’s capital reserves by now, in truth what’s happening is money (and people) are leaving for Cyprus or the EU countries mostly only to be repatriated. These are people who are going abroad temporarily to work or for education (especially to Londongrad) then coming back within two years.

    • Yes, I have written tons about that. The first indicator isn’t very relevant (there are many Western countries where even greater percentages want to leave), and the second figure is false. Please looks through the Archives or Google “Da Rusophile emigration”.

      • I found this blog recently. thank you, i found the article in the archives.

        • I’d guess the percentage that want to leave Spain or Greece or would consider leaving Italy for work is very high among the under 30 crowd. Who calls them failed states? Besides Mark Steyn, I mean.

  2. It is some time now since I read an article in the British media about “Russia’s catastrophic demographic situation”. Just conceivably that might be because the turnaround is now becoming so unarguable that it is becoming difficult to sustain the “demographic catastrophe” trope. What of course we will never see is an admission that the predictions of demographic collapse were wrong and that Anatoly almost alone was right on the subject. Instead I expect the whole subject to vanish down a memory hole. That makes it all the more important that we remember.

  3. You left out emigration out from your post. Emigration trends have not been good for Russia lately.

    • RusFed-o-phile says:

      Do you mean this? (at the very bottom of the site)

      If you wish you can explain the significant rise of ’emigration’ to the other CIS-countries with the hopelessness of the situation in Russia and the booming economy in Tajikistan and alikes.

      In reality the migration to Russia is increasing, emigration is almost insignificant for years (and even more so to the non-post-soviet space). There was simply a change registration for long-term migrants (I hope someone can explain it).

    • Yes, RusFed-o-phile is correct. A 5x increase in emigration to other CIS nations over the period of just one year is totally unfeasible. It has to do with a change of bureaucratic registration procedures (which I do not know the details of).

      If you look closely, there has been virtually zero increase in emigration to those countries (US, Canada, Germany, Israel) where you would expect unsatisfied hamsters to go.

      • For a short review of registration procedures, see this footnote from 2011H1 Demoscope “Russian Demographic Barometer”. A similar footnote will definitely appear in the 2012H1 issue that will be published in a week or so.

        Briefly – in 2011, Rosstat has changed the way it counted migration – only those registered at an abode (a specific address) started to be counted for the “official” number. “Unofficial” number became very large because in addition to the above, those registered for 9 month+ stay in a particular place (city or town) started to be included. Before 2010, the number of incoming migrants was counted as those registered at an address plus registered at a place for 12+ months.

        In 2012, a brief experiment with counting only those registered at a particular address was discontinued. The only reported definition in 2012 is the same as the “unofficial” definition in 2011, but year-to-year comparisons are done, as far as I could see, with the “official” 2011 results. This explains huge discrepancy.

        Numbers for out-migration to non-CIS countries reported by Rosstat are definitely lower that real ones, perhaps one should double them to get a rough idea. As the total migration increase is an order of magnitude larger than outflow to non-CIS, this cannot change the overall picture.

  4. Moscow Exile says:

    Die russische Deutschen kommen zurück!

  5. RusFed-o-phile says:

    It seems that October 2012 will almost certainly bring a post-Soviet record in births (total surprise since the births are always abating in the last quarter).

    There are preliminary numbers for the following Federal subjects (I don’t provide links to avoid the spam filter):

    1. Udmurtia:
    Births Jan-Sep 17.255 / Sep 1.848
    Jan-Oct: 19.592 / Oct 2.337 (best months were July and August with only 2.060 births)

    2. Novosibirsk Oblast
    Jan-Sep 27.812 / Sep 2.879
    Jan-Oct 31.527 / Oct. 3.715

    3. Rostov Oblast
    Jan-Sep 36.626 / Sep 4.169
    Jan-Oct 42.142 / Oct. 5.516

    4. Mordovia
    Jan-Sep 6.133/ Sep 660
    Jan-Oct 7.015 / Oct. 880

    5. Tatarstan
    Jan-Sep 40.912 / Sep 4.871
    Jan-Oct 46.618 / Oct. 5.706

    6. Perm Krai
    Jan-Sep 28.968 / Sep 3.183
    Jan-Oct “33.000+” / Oct. 4.000+

    7. Altai Krai
    Jan-Sep 24.551 / Sep 2.559
    Jan-Oct 27.907 / Oct. 3.356

    Additionally there is data for cities like single cities Kurgan (567 births = 138% compared to Oct 2011) and Lipetsk (Oct. 2012 642 births vs. Oct. 2011 with only 530 births).

    On the minus side there is a spike in deaths but that maybe related with colder weather than last year. But it’s unlikely that it will prevent the first natural population growth since 1991.