Russia’s Demographics Continue to Steadily Improve

Here it is, for those who read Russian. The May data also has emigration data, which is not included in the prelimary estimates – that is here.

The main points to take away:

  • Births fell 0.3% and deaths fell 0.5%; as a result, the overall natural decrease has fallen from -57,000 in 2012 to -53,000 in 2013.
  • This is amply compensated for by the 101,000 net immigration for Jan-May 2013.
  • Russia’s population is estimated to have risen from about 143.3m at the end of 2012 to 143.4 now, with the fertile summer months still ahead. Overall, we can reasonably expect that as with last year, zero natural population growth and 250,000-300,000 net immigrants will enable Russia to eke out another small if solid population increase to 143.5-143.6m by year-end.
  • In per capita terms, the birth rate remained steady at 12.7/1000 as did the death rate at 13.5/1000.
  • These figures are, of course, for the first half of the year; in the second half, births tend to rise while mortality falls (more Russians die during the winter). In 2012, the birth rate and death rate both converged to 13.3/1000 by year-end. Barring unexpected shocks, roughly the same thing should happen this year.

And now, a brief regional comparison:

  • The situation in Ukraine is significantly worse. For Jan-May, the birth rate was at 10.3/1000 while the death rate was at 15.3/1000. Relative to the previous year, births fell while deaths remained steady.
  • In Belarus the birth rate for Jan-Jun is at 12.0/1000, while the death rate is at 13.8/1000. The death rate increased slightly from the previous year, while the birth rate increased significantly.
  • Caution should be used in interpreting these figures. In particular, Ukraine and Belarus don’t, of course, have vigorous minorities in the Caucasus and southern Siberia as does Russia – who make up a small but certainly non-negligible fraction of its population.
  • In particular, comparing Belarus with Russia’s Central region or Pskov, as would only be fair, it comes off looking very good indeed.
  • Ukraine however is definitely falling behind, especially considering that it too has a vigorous minority (of sorts) in the three westernmost oblasts which have a different demographic pattern to the rest of the country. Basically, there is no equivalent in either Russia (maybe a couple of particularly run down oblasts), Belarus, or probably anywhere else in the post-Soviet space for the very low birth rates and high death rates that characterize most of Ukraine’s eastern and central regions.

Apart from that:

  • The pattern of Russian mortality continues to get better, with deaths from external causes (aka the worst kind) falling most rapidly as has been the pattern of late. But deaths from alcohol poisoning, though still falling, are beginning to fall less rapidly. Could it be tied with more moonshine production in the wake of the big excise rises on vodka seen in the past few months?
  • The only major disease categories that saw increases in mortality are deaths from lung-related disease and from other causes. This might be tied to the unusually harsh winter seen this year (more elderly tend to die in hard winters, of the above causes).


  1. Thanks for passing on this excellent news Anatoly. As I have said before and will say again you have been a unique voice of sense on this subject and the view you have taken has been wholly vindicated, not that you would ever know that from the stunning silence with which the good news about Russia’s demographic situation has been received in some quarters.

    Am I not also right in thinking that this latest news also completely vindicates a comment you made at the start of the year when a brief worsening of the figures almost certainly caused by the very cold winter was seized on by some people as evidence that the demographic turn around was coming to an end? As I remember you rightly warned against rushing to conclusions based on a few figures.

  2. What about emigration figures? Are more or less Russians moving abroad?

    • hello
      there is about 5600000 people hade not declaired their ethnictly-all of them migrants from central asia (muslims) russia will became muslim majority state by 2050

  3. FYI, a map of natural population growth in the former USSR in 2012 (not 2013):

    • Just… wow. It even has the Kurils. Thanks for this!

      I think I’ll even make a separate post.

      • I’m glad to be helpful; it’s the least I can do, given the many insightful articles of yours that I have enjoyed.

        A caveat about the map: it seems to closely match other demographic data I have seen, but it doesn’t seem to have a specific reference.

      • hello
        5600000 people hade not declared their own ethnictly-is these muslims or russians?

  4. I would expect Russia to see natural population growth this year as the birth rate is likely to remain between 99.5% – 100.5% of 2012 levels while the death rate is likely to drop by around 1.5% as a 2% decline in deaths appears to be the trend, deaths dropped by 2.2% in the 2nd quarter, and deaths would have dropped by around 2% in the 1st quarter if the harsh weather conditions had not caused some 15,000 excess deaths of which 10,000 were from rises in pulmonary diseases and ‘other’ causes.

    I estimate that in 2013, there are likely to be 1,893K – 1,910K births with around 1,880K deaths.

  5. HAHA! You might as well start looking for a new word for Siberia soon. Russian de facto rule in the Far East is finished!

    AK: I believe I have already asked you to insert hyperlinks as opposed to spamming the comments threads with entire articles.

    • Judging by the very end of the article, it looks like these Chinese will simply assimilate into Russian society.

  6. alcestiseshtemoa says:

    What great news of the improvement in Russian fertility.

  7. Do you know how is the situation now in Ukraine with birth rate? I think they will have better year than 2012 which was their best or i am wrong? President of Ukraine said in 2012 that they will have more births than deaths in 2013-2014 in Ukraine.

    • I’m afraid that simply isn’t going to happen.

      Jan-Jul 2012 Ukraine’s natural population growth was -3.7/1,000; this year, it’s -4.0/1,000.

      In particular, while the death rate fell modestly (from 14.9 to 14.7), the birth rate fell substantially (from 11.2 to 10.7). Nor is there much scope for increasing it, because as in Russia, the small 1990s cohort is now fast coming into peak reproductive age – and the Ukrainian population is slightly older than Russia’s to boot. It would do very well to keep the birth rate at ~10/1,000 in the next two decades.

      • I couldn’t find direct info about birth rate by oblast for Ukraine in the 1990s, but this map of population growth from 1989 to 2001:

        suggests that the reverse baby-boom of the 1990s did not impact western Ukraine that much. This may mean that the regional demographic differences may escalate as the 1990’s cohort reaches childbearing age.