Everyone interested in modern Russia should read a report out this week on the nation’s deepening demographic crisis. It’s published by the United Nations Development Programme, but it’s written by a team of Russian academic experts, so no one can say it’s tainted with bias.
The report describes the stark reality of a country whose population is falling fast, to a considerable extent because of rampant alcohol abuse among men, who on average are dying before they make it to 60 years old. “Short life expectancy is the main feature of this crisis, though by no means its only feature. The birth rate is too low, the population is shrinking and ageing, and Russia is on the threshold of rapid loss of able-bodied population, which will be accompanied by a growing demographic burden per able-bodied individual. The number of potential mothers is starting to decline and the country needs to host large flows of immigrants,” the report says. Read more