Translation: Demographics in Russia and Germany

In a graphs-heavy blog post, German-Russian blogger A.S. Schmidt argues that with its far higher emigration rates and lower birth rates, Germany is now in a much bigger demographic crisis than Russia.

Demographics in Russia and Germany

I have long wanted to compare some of the demographic trends in Russia and Germany but, to be honest, I was afraid to take on this subject, since the volume of data is very large. In the future, I hope to return to this subject again because of this. Today, I will only compare a few demographic indicators to give a general overview of the situation and take away some of the deep-rooted prejudices. In the future, I plan to write more about measures aimed at the birth rate, migration, aging of the population and some non-obvious effects of policy on the population in Western Europe.

To analyze the situation, I used data from the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation (Rostat), Federal Research Institute of the German population. To check my calculations I used data on the site of the World Health Organization (WHO). For the analysis I uysed the period 1990-2012.

Fertility in Russia and Germany

To start, let’s take a look at the fertility rate. The fertility rate characterizes the number of births per 1000 inhabitants per year. It can be said that the fertility rate is one of the most important indicators to measure the population. Let me remind you that the population of Russia is about 143 million people, and the population of Germany is 81 million people.


To avoid unfounded accusations of being creative with the truth, I just want to end the argument about the connection between the growth of the fertility rate and the increase in the decline of the population Russia. The chart below gives an overview between the number of births in Russia and Germany in absolute terms.


It has become obvious to us that the graphs showing the fertility rate and the birth rate are very similar and both show very interesting trends. Both the fertility rate and the birth rate have been constantly decreasing in Germany over the past 20 years. In Russia, by contrast, since recovering from the deep crisis in the 90’s when the fertility rate dropped below that of Germany, there is now a fairly rapid growth in both fertility rate and birth rate. If one extrapolates the current trend, Russia will reach the level of fertility rate that the Soviet-Union had at the end of the 1980’s. It is also easy to see that growth in bith the fertility rate and birth rate started in the year 2000, this allows us to come to some far-reaching conclusions.

For supporters of conspiracy theories who see paid agents of the Kremlin everywhere: I would like to note that stillborn children are not included in Rostat’s data. I checked both the data from Rostat and the Federal Statistical Office Germany against the data of the WHO and I found no significant deviation.

Mortality (rate)

Another important demographic indicator is the mortality rate – the number of deaths per 1000 people in a given country in a year. First let’s look at the absolute figures.


As can be concluded from the graph, more people died in Russia than in Germany. At the end of the 90’s, the absolute number of deaths in Russia exceeded that of Germany by almost three times. However, we should not forget that Russia has a larger population than Germany. In order to analyse this data more objectively I compiled the following graph.


The graph shows that the number of deaths is still higher in Russia than in Germany but not by three times, not even by two, but by only 30%. In addition, the graph shows us a noticeable similar trend that we saw in the graph on fertility: the mortality rate in Russia has been decreasing since 2000, and it looks like this trend is continuing both absolutely and relatively. Interestingly, but hardly noticeable is an increase in mortality in Germany since 2004, I think the reason for this is the aging of the population. I will definitely come back to this phenomenon next time.

Natural Population Growth

Natural growth of the population – is the difference of the two above indicators (number of births-number of deaths) and shows whether the indigenous population of a country increased or decreased in a given year.


It is a predictable outcome: for the last 20 years the population of Russia decreased by catastrophic rates, in 2000, population loss amounted to 950 thousand people. However, another trend is evident since 2000, the decline of the natural population was stopped, starting from 2012 Russia’s population displayed a natural increase of the population, that is, the birth rate for the first time since the collapse of the USSR exceeded death.

The graph of the natural population growth in Germany, though not showing the dramatic losses, is disturbing; Germany has suffered from a constant natural decline in population since the 1990’s, and the decline is increasing. To date, the population of Germany is shrinking by about 200,000 people a year, a problem aggravated by the fact that Germany has almost exhausted its resources to encourage childbirth or significant reduction of mortality. This means that the trend of the population decline is unlikely to be reversed in the foreseeable future.


What is also interesting is the graph on migration flows, it is particular useful to the supporters of the “suitcase sentiment” theory (everybody is leaving Russia). Let’s start with Russia.


There are a few interesting facts that are worth paying attention to, before we move to Germany. The most important of these is the number of  immigrants (who come to Russia) has always exceeded the number of those who left. It’s hard not to notice that the number of those who left permanently has been reducing, that is, people prefer to stay in Russia or go to Russia, and not to leave her. I do not personally know of cases of people who preferred to go/move to a country in which everything is bad.

I can immediately anticipate on the objections from the “White Ribbon” movement, that people who are leaving, prefer not to talk about this openly and do not register themselves in Russia as “emigrated”. It is worth to note that the flow Russian immigrants is only recorded by Russian passport offices, but also in their new place of residence in the host country, where, as a rule, they have to obtain the appropriate visa or residence permit. The data that the statistical agencies of these new host countires states provide pertaining to expatriates from Russia, shows a similar picture to the data we have from Rosstat. Rosstat gives us figures slightly below those available from foreign sources, but the trend in the reduction of migration from Russia can be seen in anyways.

Now, let’s take a look at Germany!


Curiously, in the period 2008-2009 Germany had a negative migration saldo, that is, more people were leaving Germany than arriving. It was only when the crisis errupted, that Germany experienced an influx of migrants from Southern Europe, a region which is now experiencing a huge shortage of experienced personnel.

Let’s compare the number of “It is time to get out of here” people (emigrants) who left Germany and Russia.


This graph hints that, in addition to 200.000 deaths per year in Germany, Germans are massively leaving their country by 600.000 a year. It looks like that Germany is now experiencing a period with the same characteristics as the “dashing nineties” in Russia.

Overall population growth

Overall population growth is the sum of natural population growth and migration.


I will not comment on the graph above, I think that everything is clear to everybody.


Russia currently has successfully overcome the demographic crisis of the 90s, the population is no longer declining and migration flows are able to increase the size of the population. In Germany, we have a decline in population due to its natural extinction and mass emigration. Even the active involvement of thousands of foreign workers, up to a million people a year, will not allow Germany to change the trend in the decline in the population of the country. I think it would be superfluous to say that the substitution of German immigrants did not have the best effect on the country’s competitiveness in the international market, as can be read in great detail Thilo Sarrazin’s book “Germany Does away with Itself.” Brief summary of the book can be found here.