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    I will have a much longer and detailed post on this in the future, with new projections, but this breaking news (at least as far as it comes with dry demographic statistics) so I can't refrain from writing a preliminary post on the matter. For all intents and purposes, Russia's demographic crisis - the infamous...
  • I agree with your conclusions and consider this what one might call “emergence” from the ‘post-Soviet” era in Russia.

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  • This is most excellent news. I always thought the idea of a continual and unending decline in Russia’s population was outlandish unless we had a “Children of Men” type scenario where fertility just collapsed to zero. At some point there would just have to be a reversal.

    What did you mean by “brain time” though? Did you mean “brain drain”?

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  • This will become a go-to reference for me; thanks for your diligent application.

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  • Dear Anatoly,

    You have been completely vindicated on this subject on which your writing has throughout been full of good sense and scrupulous attention to fact. In fact on this subject it has been a well of good clear water in a desert.

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  • Well, I definitely didn’t expect that Rosstat would return to a standard way of counting migrants so fast. Apparently, with post-parliamentary elections protests organized by “creative class” rather than nationalists, the nationalist threat was deemed to be a paper tiger. Navalny’s slow slipping into “also run” category is one indicator, but there are others.

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  • Thanks for the update. As long as Russia does not subject itself to any more revolutions things should be much better by 2020.

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  • But what about the talk about the “echo effect” of declining birth rates as women from the diminished 1990′s cohort come of age?

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  • The preliminary results of the 2010 Census are out, showing that the population has fallen to 142.9 million. This compares to 145.2 million counted in the previous 2002 Census. Most headlines have emphasized the falling population aspect of "Putin's decade". But the more interesting stuff is in the derivatives. According to state statistics agency Rosstat,...
  • [...] the Russian population decline has slowed, and there is evidence that Russia’s population is gradually rising again. Therefore, although there is no detailed Russia population 2012 data, it’s reasonable to [...]

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  • It is now increasingly evident that Russia's population has settled on a small but decidedly firm upwards growth trend. I have been vindicated. According to the latest data, in the first eight months of the year births fell by 1.4% (12.5/1000 to 12.3/1000) and deaths fell by 6.2% (from 14.6/1000 to 13.7/1000) relative to the...
  • @Mark
    The USA, Russia's most vocal critic, has itself been below the replacement birth rate for decades except a brief blip in 2008/09, and would be sliding backward except for the combined positive of immigration and an anomalously high birth rate in Hispanics. Expressed as a world problem, birth rates have been in steady decline for decades. Yet this is frequently portrayed as a uniquely Russian problem.

    Immigrants indeed may not come for love of Russia. What, then, inspires them? Possibility of better lives? How is that a negative? Georgia and Russia, officially, have no love for one another. Where's the biggest Georgian diaspora? Russia.

    I think Georgians go to live in Russia because they fear President Mikheil Saakashvili and what he has done to Georgia more than they fear Medvedev or Putin and what they have done to Georgia.

    Central Asians live in Russia for the jobs and the money they can send back home. Maybe Chinese go for the jobs and/or to study at universities in Moscow and St Petersburg.

    Being Australian-born but of Chinese ancestry, I’m curious about how many Chinese now live in Russia and what percentage of the Russian population they make up. I did come across a statistic years ago that suggested Chinese people might become one of Russia’s largest ethnic groups by the year 2020 but I haven’t seen anything like that statement since and it’s possible that both Russian and Chinese government sources are toying around with the actual figures for their own purposes.

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  • @John
    Peter, weren't you predicting Russia's inevitable economic collapse a couple years back while touting America and Europe's economic superiority in contrast? I'm sure I remember you parroting the Western media's take on Russia's doomsday demographic situation as well...

    I stopped following your blog because I realized you were just another LaRussophobe follower/wannabe and that there was no talking any sense into you as far as facts and logic were concerned. I don't know why Aantoly still wastes time responding to your blatant trolling to be honest.

    Peter, weren’t you…

    Nope, you’re obviously confusing me with someone else.

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  • @peter

    Now it actually WILL reverse (>99% certainty)...
     
    Good boy. I'm glad that Doug's (and my) efforts to educate you a bit haven't been entirely wasted.

    Say 300,000 per year.
     
    That looks increasingly unlikely.

    Peter, weren’t you predicting Russia’s inevitable economic collapse a couple years back while touting America and Europe’s economic superiority in contrast? I’m sure I remember you parroting the Western media’s take on Russia’s doomsday demographic situation as well…

    I stopped following your blog because I realized you were just another LaRussophobe follower/wannabe and that there was no talking any sense into you as far as facts and logic were concerned. I don’t know why Aantoly still wastes time responding to your blatant trolling to be honest.

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    • Replies: @peter

    Peter, weren’t you...
     
    Nope, you're obviously confusing me with someone else.
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  • Back to the original topic….

    http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/243971/20111105/russia-moscow-rally-nationalists-putin-caucasus.htm

    Perhaps there is a ‘limit’ to the number of migrants Russia can adopt. Somehow, Russia’s demographic survival STILL depends on uplifting TFRs(a very difficult task….but maybe Estonia shows that it’s not entirely impossible) and improving healthcare and mortality rates(also a difficult task but if my [third world and corrupt] country can do it, I don’t see any reason why Russia cannot). I think Nationalists and Ultranationalists might become a future political force to reckon with rather than ‘Russian liberals’ and ‘Communists’ if Russia still depends on too many migrants to ‘plug’ its demographic deficit.

    sinotibetan

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  • @Doug M.
    Apropos of the alcoholism, I note in passing that no policy of Gorbachev's is more loathed, more despised, more condemned by historical memory than his anti-alcohol campaign.

    You can find Russians who view the Gulag system as a harsh historical necessity, and who see the Holodomor as an inevitable side effect of industrialization. You can find Russians who adore the memory of Czar Nicholas. But you'll have to look very hard to find a Russian who has anything positive to say about Gorbachev's historic attempt to wean Russia off the bottle.

    The current government seems to be attempting the same thing, but much more cautiously, by very slow and gradual increments over the course of a generation. Maybe this will work! Let's watch.


    Doug M.

    Dear Doug,

    What is the evidence for the unpopularity of Gorbachev’s anti alcohol campaign?

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  • @Mark
    Russia is still in a good position to argue for further concessions, especially if it perceives that the circumstances you describe indeed prevail and that there is urgency to get Russia signed up.

    If I were Putin, I would say "no deal" unless Saakashvili agreed to march in the Moscow May Day parade dressed as a cheerleader, complete with short skirt and white boots. And he would have to sing "Pavarot" in Russian, accompanied by John Boehner on guitar and Mitch McConnell on backing vocals.

    If I were Putin, I would agree to the deal with above caveat, except it would be Victory Day parade, sit on top of mausoleum watching Saakashvili perform in parade dressed as cheerleader, laugh my ass off, and then immediately cancel the deal, saying, “I was just kidding.” I agree with faction that says WTO is bad for Russia. I have respectfully listened to other side, understand their arguments, but I still think WTO is terrible idea for Russia.

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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    The latest news is that Georgia has apparently now agreed with Russia on the terms for Russia's WTO entry. If so then Russia will presumably be admitted into the WTO in December and the thing is a done deal. I have no information on the terms of the agreement but it is difficult to see this as anything other than a defeat for Saakashvili.

    I would just make one final point. If the Financial Times is to be believed the EU's decision to pressure Georgia over Russia's WTO admission was caused by panic that if Russia did not join this year then it never would because hardliner Putin is supposedly against. If so then this is more proof if any were needed that Russia gets more by taking a tough line than by being conciliatory.

    PS: I happen to think that Russia will benefit greatly by being in the WTO but that would take too long to discuss here.

    Russia is still in a good position to argue for further concessions, especially if it perceives that the circumstances you describe indeed prevail and that there is urgency to get Russia signed up.

    If I were Putin, I would say “no deal” unless Saakashvili agreed to march in the Moscow May Day parade dressed as a cheerleader, complete with short skirt and white boots. And he would have to sing “Pavarot” in Russian, accompanied by John Boehner on guitar and Mitch McConnell on backing vocals.

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    • Replies: @yalensis
    If I were Putin, I would agree to the deal with above caveat, except it would be Victory Day parade, sit on top of mausoleum watching Saakashvili perform in parade dressed as cheerleader, laugh my ass off, and then immediately cancel the deal, saying, "I was just kidding." I agree with faction that says WTO is bad for Russia. I have respectfully listened to other side, understand their arguments, but I still think WTO is terrible idea for Russia.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • The latest news is that Georgia has apparently now agreed with Russia on the terms for Russia’s WTO entry. If so then Russia will presumably be admitted into the WTO in December and the thing is a done deal. I have no information on the terms of the agreement but it is difficult to see this as anything other than a defeat for Saakashvili.

    I would just make one final point. If the Financial Times is to be believed the EU’s decision to pressure Georgia over Russia’s WTO admission was caused by panic that if Russia did not join this year then it never would because hardliner Putin is supposedly against. If so then this is more proof if any were needed that Russia gets more by taking a tough line than by being conciliatory.

    PS: I happen to think that Russia will benefit greatly by being in the WTO but that would take too long to discuss here.

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    • Replies: @Mark
    Russia is still in a good position to argue for further concessions, especially if it perceives that the circumstances you describe indeed prevail and that there is urgency to get Russia signed up.

    If I were Putin, I would say "no deal" unless Saakashvili agreed to march in the Moscow May Day parade dressed as a cheerleader, complete with short skirt and white boots. And he would have to sing "Pavarot" in Russian, accompanied by John Boehner on guitar and Mitch McConnell on backing vocals.

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  • I doubt the USA could stop Russia’s accession to the WTO if all other member states approve, because the USA dropped most of its personal objections some time ago. However, Congress could vote on – and against – adopting normal trade ties and the granting of most favoured nation status to Russia, as discussed here;

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/us-politician-says-no-wto-for-russia-until-georgia-issue-is-resolved/446376.html#ixzz1bvK8wRy6

    I would not be very surprised, I’m afraid, to find that Georgia is hanging on to its arguments because of on-the-down-low support from the USA, which is using Georgia as a surrogate. The U.S. business community might be in favour if it could acquire substantial holdings in Russian energy companies such as GAZPROM and ROSNEFT, but the sacking of Kudrin made that possibility much less likely and the notion of gaining a controlling interest was never really on the table. Since oil and gas are internationally-traded commodities, the USA’s digging its heels in wouldn’t mean the USA couldn’t buy oil from Russia, although American intransigence might send the price higher. The oil majors are never averse to that, especially when they can point to somebody else and say, “It’s their fault. We don’t like to take a conflict dividend, but what can we do? If we don’t, everyone else will”.

    Updates to the linked article point out that negotiations are still ongoing right now.

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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Kirill and Mark,

    I agree with everything both of you have said. I first went to Russia in December 1998 at the height of the economic crisis. Though I did so as a lawyer and not as an investor or economist having seen what Russia was really like I told everybody I saw of my confidence that the Russian economy would boom as soon as Yeltsin stopped being President and economic policy became rational again. I was right and I remain fully confident about Russia's economic future.

    I just wanted to say that the latest news on Russia's WTO bid is that the European Union gave Georgia some sort of ultimatum to come to terms with Russia. Supposedly after this the Georgians made concessions and there are now hopes for a breakthrough, which could mean that Russia will join the WTO in December.

    If this is so (and one has to be skeptical about anything involving Saakashvili) it will vindicate the tough line Russia has taken during the negotiations. I ought to say that it will also be a major defeat for Saakashvili and a sign that the European Union has now come to realise that it is in its interests to establish a strong commercial partnership with Russia.

    As to whether WTO membership for Russia would be a good thing, the answer is that it would, but that Russia can survive and prosper without it. I ought to say that as one of the few people who comment on this blog whose memory extends back to the detente days of the early 1970s, I can clearly remember that the agenda then was for the USSR (as it then was) to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ("GATT") the WTO's predecessor organisation. That suggestion together with lots of others (such as building Lockheed Tristars in Voronezh) of course vanished like the frost in spring. This time I suspect it will be different.

    Is approval from Congress needed for Russia to join the WTO or is this something that can be decided by the US government without Congress? I don’t know for sure but I was under the impression that this is for the US government and not Congress to decide.

    Having said this you are of course right Mark that the usual suspects will do everything they can to make Russia’s WTO admission impossible. Even if the US government can decide the issue the question will then be whether less than a year before what looks like a difficult election Obama is prepared to face these people down. He has not shown himself over eager to do battle with them up to now and one wonders whether he would want to over such an issue. I suspect what will decide the matter is the attitude of the US business community. I have heard that it is broadly in favour. We shall see.

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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Kirill and Mark,

    I agree with everything both of you have said. I first went to Russia in December 1998 at the height of the economic crisis. Though I did so as a lawyer and not as an investor or economist having seen what Russia was really like I told everybody I saw of my confidence that the Russian economy would boom as soon as Yeltsin stopped being President and economic policy became rational again. I was right and I remain fully confident about Russia's economic future.

    I just wanted to say that the latest news on Russia's WTO bid is that the European Union gave Georgia some sort of ultimatum to come to terms with Russia. Supposedly after this the Georgians made concessions and there are now hopes for a breakthrough, which could mean that Russia will join the WTO in December.

    If this is so (and one has to be skeptical about anything involving Saakashvili) it will vindicate the tough line Russia has taken during the negotiations. I ought to say that it will also be a major defeat for Saakashvili and a sign that the European Union has now come to realise that it is in its interests to establish a strong commercial partnership with Russia.

    As to whether WTO membership for Russia would be a good thing, the answer is that it would, but that Russia can survive and prosper without it. I ought to say that as one of the few people who comment on this blog whose memory extends back to the detente days of the early 1970s, I can clearly remember that the agenda then was for the USSR (as it then was) to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ("GATT") the WTO's predecessor organisation. That suggestion together with lots of others (such as building Lockheed Tristars in Voronezh) of course vanished like the frost in spring. This time I suspect it will be different.

    Well, said, Alex. I predicted in my interview here with Anatoly that Russia would be a member of the WTO by 2012, but at the time I was a strong advocate for the WTO and now I am much less so. The EU may well bring pressure to bear on Georgia, and it would be sweet indeed to see Saakashvili humiliated, but conservative Republicans in the USA remain firmly opposed to Russia’s membership. They were effective for years at keeping Russia out long before the conflict with Georgia provided a convenient fig leaf, and they have not changed their minds. At present Russia has much more to offer the WTO than the other way round.

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  • @Mark
    Agreed to all. This morning's stunning announcement of the Greek "referendum" and its immediate tumultuous effect on the markets is instructive where care in forming and joining trade alliances is concerned. The suggestion by some sources that this could precipitate a meltdown of the entire European banking system is not an exaggeration, and they have to be panicking. Where would Russia's surplus be now if it had indeed been contributed to the Eurozone's disaster, as Kudrin once offered? In the wind; that's where.

    Dear Kirill and Mark,

    I agree with everything both of you have said. I first went to Russia in December 1998 at the height of the economic crisis. Though I did so as a lawyer and not as an investor or economist having seen what Russia was really like I told everybody I saw of my confidence that the Russian economy would boom as soon as Yeltsin stopped being President and economic policy became rational again. I was right and I remain fully confident about Russia’s economic future.

    I just wanted to say that the latest news on Russia’s WTO bid is that the European Union gave Georgia some sort of ultimatum to come to terms with Russia. Supposedly after this the Georgians made concessions and there are now hopes for a breakthrough, which could mean that Russia will join the WTO in December.

    If this is so (and one has to be skeptical about anything involving Saakashvili) it will vindicate the tough line Russia has taken during the negotiations. I ought to say that it will also be a major defeat for Saakashvili and a sign that the European Union has now come to realise that it is in its interests to establish a strong commercial partnership with Russia.

    As to whether WTO membership for Russia would be a good thing, the answer is that it would, but that Russia can survive and prosper without it. I ought to say that as one of the few people who comment on this blog whose memory extends back to the detente days of the early 1970s, I can clearly remember that the agenda then was for the USSR (as it then was) to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (“GATT”) the WTO’s predecessor organisation. That suggestion together with lots of others (such as building Lockheed Tristars in Voronezh) of course vanished like the frost in spring. This time I suspect it will be different.

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    • Replies: @Mark
    Well, said, Alex. I predicted in my interview here with Anatoly that Russia would be a member of the WTO by 2012, but at the time I was a strong advocate for the WTO and now I am much less so. The EU may well bring pressure to bear on Georgia, and it would be sweet indeed to see Saakashvili humiliated, but conservative Republicans in the USA remain firmly opposed to Russia's membership. They were effective for years at keeping Russia out long before the conflict with Georgia provided a convenient fig leaf, and they have not changed their minds. At present Russia has much more to offer the WTO than the other way round.
    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Is approval from Congress needed for Russia to join the WTO or is this something that can be decided by the US government without Congress? I don't know for sure but I was under the impression that this is for the US government and not Congress to decide.

    Having said this you are of course right Mark that the usual suspects will do everything they can to make Russia's WTO admission impossible. Even if the US government can decide the issue the question will then be whether less than a year before what looks like a difficult election Obama is prepared to face these people down. He has not shown himself over eager to do battle with them up to now and one wonders whether he would want to over such an issue. I suspect what will decide the matter is the attitude of the US business community. I have heard that it is broadly in favour. We shall see.

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  • @kirill
    I am hoping that they don't apply "political pragmatism" in the case of the WTO and sign on in the hope of some sort of long term normalization of relations with the west. The recent spate of travel bans in the wake of the Magnitsky case revelations tells me that there is no interest in the USA, Canada, and other NATO states for normal relations with Russia. Seriously, the list of 60 officials banned from travel to the USA is pure propaganda rubbish as if they had any link to the case whatsoever. (Let's not forget it was an official Russian investigation of the case that brought up the details in the first place and Medvedev called for punishment to be meted out.) Applying this list's standard, US officials should be rounded up for what their underlings do in Iraq and elsewhere. This is aside from any gross violation of the Nuremburg convention by US invasions.

    I think Georgia is doing Russia a big favour by stalling its entry into the WTO. I hope their hate blinds them for a long time to come and they keep adding idiotic conditions, such as foreign oversight of trade with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, so that Russia does not sign on to this trap. In spite of the condescending tone from the west, it is not Russia that is desperate for WTO membership but the other way around. The west wants to use the WTO to get unrestricted access to Russia's resources and manufacturing. They failed to turn into a banana republic under Yeltsin, buy they are still hoping it becomes one.

    It should be highlighted that none of the major developed economies did so under free trade conditions. The USA, Japan, UK, France, Germany, etc, all applied vigorous protectionist measures were not part of some WTO. Free trade works in the favour of countries like the US which is dominated by transnational corporations. Russia needs to protect its developing domestic industry.

    Regarding your point about the endless "advice" to Russia about oil and gas dependence. This is another fine example of western hypocrisy. Oil and gas are Russia's natural competitive advantage, so following the Ricardo school of economic thought that underlies free trade, Russia should be selling these on the world market while letting less competitive industries vanish.

    Agreed to all. This morning’s stunning announcement of the Greek “referendum” and its immediate tumultuous effect on the markets is instructive where care in forming and joining trade alliances is concerned. The suggestion by some sources that this could precipitate a meltdown of the entire European banking system is not an exaggeration, and they have to be panicking. Where would Russia’s surplus be now if it had indeed been contributed to the Eurozone’s disaster, as Kudrin once offered? In the wind; that’s where.

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Kirill and Mark,

    I agree with everything both of you have said. I first went to Russia in December 1998 at the height of the economic crisis. Though I did so as a lawyer and not as an investor or economist having seen what Russia was really like I told everybody I saw of my confidence that the Russian economy would boom as soon as Yeltsin stopped being President and economic policy became rational again. I was right and I remain fully confident about Russia's economic future.

    I just wanted to say that the latest news on Russia's WTO bid is that the European Union gave Georgia some sort of ultimatum to come to terms with Russia. Supposedly after this the Georgians made concessions and there are now hopes for a breakthrough, which could mean that Russia will join the WTO in December.

    If this is so (and one has to be skeptical about anything involving Saakashvili) it will vindicate the tough line Russia has taken during the negotiations. I ought to say that it will also be a major defeat for Saakashvili and a sign that the European Union has now come to realise that it is in its interests to establish a strong commercial partnership with Russia.

    As to whether WTO membership for Russia would be a good thing, the answer is that it would, but that Russia can survive and prosper without it. I ought to say that as one of the few people who comment on this blog whose memory extends back to the detente days of the early 1970s, I can clearly remember that the agenda then was for the USSR (as it then was) to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ("GATT") the WTO's predecessor organisation. That suggestion together with lots of others (such as building Lockheed Tristars in Voronezh) of course vanished like the frost in spring. This time I suspect it will be different.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Mark
    Combined with partners Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Russia exports 10 times the steel North America does, and about half of what it uses domestically every year is domestically supplied as well. Russia is a net exporter by a wide margin, while North America is a net importer.

    http://www.issb.co.uk/

    It is instructive to note that Russia achieves this without enjoying most-favoured-nation alliances with anyone in the west and is not a member of the WTO. I have therefore gone from strongly advocating Russia's acceptance into the WTO to strongly advocating Russia's telling the WTO to go pound sand up it's downward-pointing orifice, and extracting concessions from the "great powers" in exchange for joining.

    It's hard to imagine Russia ever running out of timber; it has enough to supply the world with lumber. Although Russia is somewhere around fifth in the world in production of gold, its reserves of gold are second only to those of South Africa. It is extremely rich in a variety of minerals and the diversity of its geology suggests it probably has significant deposits of rare earths as well, although little exploration has been conducted to date.

    Suggestions that Russia has "nothing but oil and gas" are nonsense, and constant western media advice to Russia that it is courting disaster by relying on oil and gas for economic growth are likewise nonsense. Gas and oil are easy money, and until the world begins to diversify away from a petroleum economy, Russia would be foolish to give up the advantage that being world's largest energy producer conveys upon it - if the USA were the world's largest energy producer, would it be likely to limit its production in order to diversify into textiles or plastics, when there was serious money to be made by its oil companies? Ha, ha; as if. There is no indication thus far that the likely successors to President and Prime Minister of Russia are foolish, either.

    I am hoping that they don’t apply “political pragmatism” in the case of the WTO and sign on in the hope of some sort of long term normalization of relations with the west. The recent spate of travel bans in the wake of the Magnitsky case revelations tells me that there is no interest in the USA, Canada, and other NATO states for normal relations with Russia. Seriously, the list of 60 officials banned from travel to the USA is pure propaganda rubbish as if they had any link to the case whatsoever. (Let’s not forget it was an official Russian investigation of the case that brought up the details in the first place and Medvedev called for punishment to be meted out.) Applying this list’s standard, US officials should be rounded up for what their underlings do in Iraq and elsewhere. This is aside from any gross violation of the Nuremburg convention by US invasions.

    I think Georgia is doing Russia a big favour by stalling its entry into the WTO. I hope their hate blinds them for a long time to come and they keep adding idiotic conditions, such as foreign oversight of trade with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, so that Russia does not sign on to this trap. In spite of the condescending tone from the west, it is not Russia that is desperate for WTO membership but the other way around. The west wants to use the WTO to get unrestricted access to Russia’s resources and manufacturing. They failed to turn into a banana republic under Yeltsin, buy they are still hoping it becomes one.

    It should be highlighted that none of the major developed economies did so under free trade conditions. The USA, Japan, UK, France, Germany, etc, all applied vigorous protectionist measures were not part of some WTO. Free trade works in the favour of countries like the US which is dominated by transnational corporations. Russia needs to protect its developing domestic industry.

    Regarding your point about the endless “advice” to Russia about oil and gas dependence. This is another fine example of western hypocrisy. Oil and gas are Russia’s natural competitive advantage, so following the Ricardo school of economic thought that underlies free trade, Russia should be selling these on the world market while letting less competitive industries vanish.

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    • Replies: @Mark
    Agreed to all. This morning's stunning announcement of the Greek "referendum" and its immediate tumultuous effect on the markets is instructive where care in forming and joining trade alliances is concerned. The suggestion by some sources that this could precipitate a meltdown of the entire European banking system is not an exaggeration, and they have to be panicking. Where would Russia's surplus be now if it had indeed been contributed to the Eurozone's disaster, as Kudrin once offered? In the wind; that's where.
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  • @Doug M.
    Apropos of the alcoholism, I note in passing that no policy of Gorbachev's is more loathed, more despised, more condemned by historical memory than his anti-alcohol campaign.

    You can find Russians who view the Gulag system as a harsh historical necessity, and who see the Holodomor as an inevitable side effect of industrialization. You can find Russians who adore the memory of Czar Nicholas. But you'll have to look very hard to find a Russian who has anything positive to say about Gorbachev's historic attempt to wean Russia off the bottle.

    The current government seems to be attempting the same thing, but much more cautiously, by very slow and gradual increments over the course of a generation. Maybe this will work! Let's watch.


    Doug M.

    Anatoly, there’s no question that it worked. It worked great! Not only did it dramatically increase male lifespans, it led to significant increases in everything from worker productivity to infant and child health. (See, for instance, http://www.cid.harvard.edu/neudc07/docs/neudc07_s3_p01_cohen.pdf)

    It worked… and people hated it. Absolutely hated it. They still do. When Medvedev praised it a couple of years back, he was roundly mocked. (Even though he carefully tempered his praise by noting that it was a good policy ruined by “idiotic bans” and “mistakes”.)

    Sergey, that’s a good point! The paper cited above notes that one reason for the jump in child and infant health seems to have been a sudden spike in paternal investment — for a couple of years, Dad was coming home and paying attention to the baby instead of getting shitfaced with his friends. Alas, it was a short-lived effect that didn’t survive the end of the campaign… but, yes, you’re probably right: I bet a lot of women have positive memories of that brief period.

    – Incidentally, I doubt the current Russian government could impose a Gorbachev-style semi-prohibition even if they wanted to. For one thing, Russian drinking patterns have changed; Russians are drinking about the same amount of alcohol as 30 years ago, but it’s from a much wider range of sources. Beer, in particular, has taken a lot of market share from vodka. For another, the Gorbachev campaign cost the state a lot of revenue (which would not be welcome) and encouraged the growth of organized crime (which would really not be welcome).

    Doug M.

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  • @kirill
    I don't disagree with your point, but I don't see why all the skepticism about a stall in the population decline. If you look at the graph of Russia's exports and imports, http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/1797538, you can see that Russia's economic growth is real and rapid. Both are increasing exponentially, interrupted only by the 2008 global super recession and have recovered their levels and exponential growth as of this year.

    This exponential growth is not artifact of Russian inflation (which was low in 2011) since this is measured in dollars. It also has little to do with oil prices. At $90 per barrel, Russia's total exported production (7.3 million barrels per day) brings in 240 billion dollars. But as of 2011 Russia is exporting 600 billion dollars per year. The 400 billion in imports can't be explained by Russia's oil exports either and there is not sign of any change around 2005 when oil prices increased.

    Birth rates and mortality rates are linked to the economic state of the society. This is has been demonstrated quite clearly in Russia during the last 20 years.

    Combined with partners Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Russia exports 10 times the steel North America does, and about half of what it uses domestically every year is domestically supplied as well. Russia is a net exporter by a wide margin, while North America is a net importer.

    http://www.issb.co.uk/

    It is instructive to note that Russia achieves this without enjoying most-favoured-nation alliances with anyone in the west and is not a member of the WTO. I have therefore gone from strongly advocating Russia’s acceptance into the WTO to strongly advocating Russia’s telling the WTO to go pound sand up it’s downward-pointing orifice, and extracting concessions from the “great powers” in exchange for joining.

    It’s hard to imagine Russia ever running out of timber; it has enough to supply the world with lumber. Although Russia is somewhere around fifth in the world in production of gold, its reserves of gold are second only to those of South Africa. It is extremely rich in a variety of minerals and the diversity of its geology suggests it probably has significant deposits of rare earths as well, although little exploration has been conducted to date.

    Suggestions that Russia has “nothing but oil and gas” are nonsense, and constant western media advice to Russia that it is courting disaster by relying on oil and gas for economic growth are likewise nonsense. Gas and oil are easy money, and until the world begins to diversify away from a petroleum economy, Russia would be foolish to give up the advantage that being world’s largest energy producer conveys upon it – if the USA were the world’s largest energy producer, would it be likely to limit its production in order to diversify into textiles or plastics, when there was serious money to be made by its oil companies? Ha, ha; as if. There is no indication thus far that the likely successors to President and Prime Minister of Russia are foolish, either.

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    • Replies: @kirill
    I am hoping that they don't apply "political pragmatism" in the case of the WTO and sign on in the hope of some sort of long term normalization of relations with the west. The recent spate of travel bans in the wake of the Magnitsky case revelations tells me that there is no interest in the USA, Canada, and other NATO states for normal relations with Russia. Seriously, the list of 60 officials banned from travel to the USA is pure propaganda rubbish as if they had any link to the case whatsoever. (Let's not forget it was an official Russian investigation of the case that brought up the details in the first place and Medvedev called for punishment to be meted out.) Applying this list's standard, US officials should be rounded up for what their underlings do in Iraq and elsewhere. This is aside from any gross violation of the Nuremburg convention by US invasions.

    I think Georgia is doing Russia a big favour by stalling its entry into the WTO. I hope their hate blinds them for a long time to come and they keep adding idiotic conditions, such as foreign oversight of trade with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, so that Russia does not sign on to this trap. In spite of the condescending tone from the west, it is not Russia that is desperate for WTO membership but the other way around. The west wants to use the WTO to get unrestricted access to Russia's resources and manufacturing. They failed to turn into a banana republic under Yeltsin, buy they are still hoping it becomes one.

    It should be highlighted that none of the major developed economies did so under free trade conditions. The USA, Japan, UK, France, Germany, etc, all applied vigorous protectionist measures were not part of some WTO. Free trade works in the favour of countries like the US which is dominated by transnational corporations. Russia needs to protect its developing domestic industry.

    Regarding your point about the endless "advice" to Russia about oil and gas dependence. This is another fine example of western hypocrisy. Oil and gas are Russia's natural competitive advantage, so following the Ricardo school of economic thought that underlies free trade, Russia should be selling these on the world market while letting less competitive industries vanish.

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  • @Leonid
    Do you really think that life in Russia is getting better, while 100% of death rate and even more is compensated by migrants?

    Sorry, twas my mistake.
    But is not making demography situation in Russia any better. Or in countries, where these migrants came from. I do not think they came because of love for Russia.

    Ok, CIA losers, I admit it. It looks much like projection. But I do not quite believe official statistics either.

    The USA, Russia’s most vocal critic, has itself been below the replacement birth rate for decades except a brief blip in 2008/09, and would be sliding backward except for the combined positive of immigration and an anomalously high birth rate in Hispanics. Expressed as a world problem, birth rates have been in steady decline for decades. Yet this is frequently portrayed as a uniquely Russian problem.

    Immigrants indeed may not come for love of Russia. What, then, inspires them? Possibility of better lives? How is that a negative? Georgia and Russia, officially, have no love for one another. Where’s the biggest Georgian diaspora? Russia.

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    • Replies: @Jennifer
    I think Georgians go to live in Russia because they fear President Mikheil Saakashvili and what he has done to Georgia more than they fear Medvedev or Putin and what they have done to Georgia.

    Central Asians live in Russia for the jobs and the money they can send back home. Maybe Chinese go for the jobs and/or to study at universities in Moscow and St Petersburg.

    Being Australian-born but of Chinese ancestry, I'm curious about how many Chinese now live in Russia and what percentage of the Russian population they make up. I did come across a statistic years ago that suggested Chinese people might become one of Russia's largest ethnic groups by the year 2020 but I haven't seen anything like that statement since and it's possible that both Russian and Chinese government sources are toying around with the actual figures for their own purposes.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    But moving Russian LE past 70 is something that no Russian government has ever yet been able to do

    The exact same thing could be said of Estonia until 2002 and Latvia until 2004 (or even 2007).

    and efficient public health system of the post-Stalin Soviet years

    It was efficient only in the sense of "bare bones" efficient.

    @Doug,

    Well, except for the years 1919-40, those countries were being governed from Moscow.

    I’m not sure where you’re going with this. What does the location of the capital have to do with LE? And here I was thinking it was dependent on prevalence of spirits binge drinking, tobacco smoking, the degree of development of the healthcare system, etc. ;)

    Whatever cultural differences that affect LE existed between Russia and the Baltics, the fact is that they tracked each each other closely. In fact, Moscow and Latvia are an almost perfect fit (both already having exceeded their Soviet-era peaks). Are you going to argue that there is likewise a huge structural and cultural gap between Moscow and the rest of Russia?

    @Alex,

    Needless to say, Alex, you are more than welcome to enter any discussion here.

    The UK’s male LE was actually around 69 in the early 70′s, but you’re correct that LE between Russia (and much of the rest of the USSR) and the West only started diverging in a big way from the mid-1960′s.

    Yes, the fact that the USSR was closed off certainly played a role, in that better lifestyle choices did not creep though. But this need not have been crucial: Cuba, despite being relatively impoverished, now has a LE comparable to any rich country. The major factor in Russia’s LE decline was that just as male binge drinking (especially involving sessions stretching over several days) and smoking were going out of fashion in the West, they were rapidly rising in prevalence in Russia itself. Furthermore, the healthcare system was increasingly starved for resources by the demands of the MIC. Whereas healthcare systems in the West developed advanced ways of treating chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, the USSR’s only provided the easiest and cheapest interventions to the general public. This pattern has only began changing in the past few years.

    And yes, I agree that now that Russia is far more of a “normal country” than the USSR, in which healthcare spending is expanding while at the same time increasing information and government incentives are encouraging improvements in lifestyle habits, LE is set to go consistently up. I also strongly suspect it has the potential to go up far quicker than the incremental 0.2-0.3 yearly gains current being made in Western LE’s because Russia still many low-hanging fruit left to pick.

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  • @Doug M.
    Apropos of the alcoholism, I note in passing that no policy of Gorbachev's is more loathed, more despised, more condemned by historical memory than his anti-alcohol campaign.

    You can find Russians who view the Gulag system as a harsh historical necessity, and who see the Holodomor as an inevitable side effect of industrialization. You can find Russians who adore the memory of Czar Nicholas. But you'll have to look very hard to find a Russian who has anything positive to say about Gorbachev's historic attempt to wean Russia off the bottle.

    The current government seems to be attempting the same thing, but much more cautiously, by very slow and gradual increments over the course of a generation. Maybe this will work! Let's watch.


    Doug M.

    Doug,

    at least half of Russian are women. They – especially the ones with heavily drinking husbands – tend to have much better memories of anti-alcohol campaign.

    Such women are under-represented among journalists, politicians, or bloggers, of course, so their opinion remains mostly unheard.

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  • @Doug M.
    Apropos of the alcoholism, I note in passing that no policy of Gorbachev's is more loathed, more despised, more condemned by historical memory than his anti-alcohol campaign.

    You can find Russians who view the Gulag system as a harsh historical necessity, and who see the Holodomor as an inevitable side effect of industrialization. You can find Russians who adore the memory of Czar Nicholas. But you'll have to look very hard to find a Russian who has anything positive to say about Gorbachev's historic attempt to wean Russia off the bottle.

    The current government seems to be attempting the same thing, but much more cautiously, by very slow and gradual increments over the course of a generation. Maybe this will work! Let's watch.


    Doug M.

    But you’ll have to look very hard to find a Russian who has anything positive to say about Gorbachev’s historic attempt to wean Russia off the bottle.

    Maybe among alkies, but in my experience opinion has been basically split in half. And while it was actually on the books it worked. Male LE remained near just shy of 65 years from 1986 to 1988, whereas in the preceding period it was at 61-62. Quite a noticeable effect that would have continued reaping gains had not enforcement started disintegrating as did the USSR itself.

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  • @Doug M.
    The change in the methodology for counting "immigrants" is interesting. The old one certainly was too liberal; I know for a fact that it was capturing hundreds of thousands of Armenians and Moldovans who were never going to stay in Russia, and very likely it was including even larger numbers of Central Asians. The new one may be too conservative -- but I would guess it's closer to reality; if someone is really planning to stay in Russia permanently, good chance they're going to register at some point.

    You're still shooting for 300,000 migrants per year, sustained over decades? Because even using the super-liberal old methodology, we'll just barely make that figure for 2011; we didn't for the last two years, and probably won't for the next two.


    Doug M.

    Doug,

    a proper methodology should have everything to do with counting the number of people sufficiently connected to a country, rather than with trying to gauge where they plan to die or raise children. If they work for 9-11 months in Russia and come back to their home country for several weeks, they are effectively residing in Russia. Some of them do start second families on the side, BTW, thus becoming even more permanently connected to Russia than before.

    I feel that migration numbers have much more to do with frequency of Moscow police’s random passport checks than with actual number of migrants. If it gets easy to live in Moscow without propiska, many people would do it. They could still send their kids to school – it’s independent of the parents’ legal status. Number of non-Russian-speaking kids in Moscow schools is comparable with the new official number of migrants coming into the country, which makes me mightily suspicious that the new methodology is vastly understating the numbers. You are a permanent migrant if you bring a kid into another country’s school.

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  • @kirill
    This is a very useful post. I still keep on hearing that Russian life expectancy is only slightly improved on the 58 year nadir.

    Interesting how the criminal shock therapy of the early 1990s by the Yeltsin regime and the damage it wrought in its wake is an attribute of Russia, never to be condemned. You have to prove to various twits that 70 years is closer to the mark even with all the alcoholism.

    Apropos of the alcoholism, I note in passing that no policy of Gorbachev’s is more loathed, more despised, more condemned by historical memory than his anti-alcohol campaign.

    You can find Russians who view the Gulag system as a harsh historical necessity, and who see the Holodomor as an inevitable side effect of industrialization. You can find Russians who adore the memory of Czar Nicholas. But you’ll have to look very hard to find a Russian who has anything positive to say about Gorbachev’s historic attempt to wean Russia off the bottle.

    The current government seems to be attempting the same thing, but much more cautiously, by very slow and gradual increments over the course of a generation. Maybe this will work! Let’s watch.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    But you’ll have to look very hard to find a Russian who has anything positive to say about Gorbachev’s historic attempt to wean Russia off the bottle.

    Maybe among alkies, but in my experience opinion has been basically split in half. And while it was actually on the books it worked. Male LE remained near just shy of 65 years from 1986 to 1988, whereas in the preceding period it was at 61-62. Quite a noticeable effect that would have continued reaping gains had not enforcement started disintegrating as did the USSR itself.

    , @Sergey
    Doug,

    at least half of Russian are women. They - especially the ones with heavily drinking husbands - tend to have much better memories of anti-alcohol campaign.

    Such women are under-represented among journalists, politicians, or bloggers, of course, so their opinion remains mostly unheard.

    , @Doug M.
    Anatoly, there's no question that it worked. It worked great! Not only did it dramatically increase male lifespans, it led to significant increases in everything from worker productivity to infant and child health. (See, for instance, http://www.cid.harvard.edu/neudc07/docs/neudc07_s3_p01_cohen.pdf)

    It worked... and people hated it. Absolutely hated it. They still do. When Medvedev praised it a couple of years back, he was roundly mocked. (Even though he carefully tempered his praise by noting that it was a good policy ruined by "idiotic bans" and "mistakes".)

    Sergey, that's a good point! The paper cited above notes that one reason for the jump in child and infant health seems to have been a sudden spike in paternal investment -- for a couple of years, Dad was coming home and paying attention to the baby instead of getting shitfaced with his friends. Alas, it was a short-lived effect that didn't survive the end of the campaign... but, yes, you're probably right: I bet a lot of women have positive memories of that brief period.

    -- Incidentally, I doubt the current Russian government could impose a Gorbachev-style semi-prohibition even if they wanted to. For one thing, Russian drinking patterns have changed; Russians are drinking about the same amount of alcohol as 30 years ago, but it's from a much wider range of sources. Beer, in particular, has taken a lot of market share from vodka. For another, the Gorbachev campaign cost the state a lot of revenue (which would not be welcome) and encouraged the growth of organized crime (which would really not be welcome).


    Doug M.

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Doug,

    What is the evidence for the unpopularity of Gorbachev's anti alcohol campaign?

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    But moving Russian LE past 70 is something that no Russian government has ever yet been able to do

    The exact same thing could be said of Estonia until 2002 and Latvia until 2004 (or even 2007).

    and efficient public health system of the post-Stalin Soviet years

    It was efficient only in the sense of "bare bones" efficient.

    Well, except for the years 1919-40, those countries were being governed from Moscow. So I’m not sure where you’re going with this.

    Doug M.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    But moving Russian LE past 70 is something that no Russian government has ever yet been able to do

    The exact same thing could be said of Estonia until 2002 and Latvia until 2004 (or even 2007).

    and efficient public health system of the post-Stalin Soviet years

    It was efficient only in the sense of "bare bones" efficient.

    I hesitate to enter this discussion but I seem to remember that back in the early 1970s male life expectancy in Britain was also in the mid 60s. If so and if this was also true elsewhere in the west then the divergence between male life expectancy in the west and in Russia seriously got going from this time.

    I wonder if at least part of the explanation might have been that because the USSR was a relatively closed society Russia missed out on the very important lifestyle change which took place in the west from the 1970s viz the decline of (especially male) smoking? If so then could it be that in the very diffferent social conditions that exist in Russia today lifestyle changes leading to longer life expectancy are more likely and may in fact be taking place?

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  • @Doug M.
    No, not a fixed upper limit. But moving Russian LE past 70 is something that no Russian government has ever yet been able to do -- even given the flattish income distribution, decent standard of living, and (relatively!) competent and efficient public health system of the post-Stalin Soviet years. This suggests that there are some hardwired challenges, structural or cultural, that will not easily be overcome.

    Since a rising life expectancy is correlated with various good things -- lower infant mortality, better health generally -- I'd be happy to be wrong about this.

    Doug M.

    But moving Russian LE past 70 is something that no Russian government has ever yet been able to do

    The exact same thing could be said of Estonia until 2002 and Latvia until 2004 (or even 2007).

    and efficient public health system of the post-Stalin Soviet years

    It was efficient only in the sense of “bare bones” efficient.

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    I hesitate to enter this discussion but I seem to remember that back in the early 1970s male life expectancy in Britain was also in the mid 60s. If so and if this was also true elsewhere in the west then the divergence between male life expectancy in the west and in Russia seriously got going from this time.

    I wonder if at least part of the explanation might have been that because the USSR was a relatively closed society Russia missed out on the very important lifestyle change which took place in the west from the 1970s viz the decline of (especially male) smoking? If so then could it be that in the very diffferent social conditions that exist in Russia today lifestyle changes leading to longer life expectancy are more likely and may in fact be taking place?

    , @Doug M.
    Well, except for the years 1919-40, those countries were being governed from Moscow. So I'm not sure where you're going with this.


    Doug M.

    , @Anatoly Karlin
    @Doug,

    Well, except for the years 1919-40, those countries were being governed from Moscow.

    I'm not sure where you're going with this. What does the location of the capital have to do with LE? And here I was thinking it was dependent on prevalence of spirits binge drinking, tobacco smoking, the degree of development of the healthcare system, etc. ;)

    Whatever cultural differences that affect LE existed between Russia and the Baltics, the fact is that they tracked each each other closely. In fact, Moscow and Latvia are an almost perfect fit (both already having exceeded their Soviet-era peaks). Are you going to argue that there is likewise a huge structural and cultural gap between Moscow and the rest of Russia?

    @Alex,

    Needless to say, Alex, you are more than welcome to enter any discussion here.

    The UK's male LE was actually around 69 in the early 70's, but you're correct that LE between Russia (and much of the rest of the USSR) and the West only started diverging in a big way from the mid-1960's.

    Yes, the fact that the USSR was closed off certainly played a role, in that better lifestyle choices did not creep though. But this need not have been crucial: Cuba, despite being relatively impoverished, now has a LE comparable to any rich country. The major factor in Russia's LE decline was that just as male binge drinking (especially involving sessions stretching over several days) and smoking were going out of fashion in the West, they were rapidly rising in prevalence in Russia itself. Furthermore, the healthcare system was increasingly starved for resources by the demands of the MIC. Whereas healthcare systems in the West developed advanced ways of treating chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, the USSR's only provided the easiest and cheapest interventions to the general public. This pattern has only began changing in the past few years.

    And yes, I agree that now that Russia is far more of a "normal country" than the USSR, in which healthcare spending is expanding while at the same time increasing information and government incentives are encouraging improvements in lifestyle habits, LE is set to go consistently up. I also strongly suspect it has the potential to go up far quicker than the incremental 0.2-0.3 yearly gains current being made in Western LE's because Russia still many low-hanging fruit left to pick.

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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Doug,

    I am not sure I understand this. Are you saying that there is a fixed upper limit to Russian life expectancy, which is below that in other places such as for example the Baltic States? Apologies in advance if I have misunderstood you or if my question appears dense but this whole subject is not an easy one for me.

    No, not a fixed upper limit. But moving Russian LE past 70 is something that no Russian government has ever yet been able to do — even given the flattish income distribution, decent standard of living, and (relatively!) competent and efficient public health system of the post-Stalin Soviet years. This suggests that there are some hardwired challenges, structural or cultural, that will not easily be overcome.

    Since a rising life expectancy is correlated with various good things — lower infant mortality, better health generally — I’d be happy to be wrong about this.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    But moving Russian LE past 70 is something that no Russian government has ever yet been able to do

    The exact same thing could be said of Estonia until 2002 and Latvia until 2004 (or even 2007).

    and efficient public health system of the post-Stalin Soviet years

    It was efficient only in the sense of "bare bones" efficient.

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  • @Anonymous
    Great post, and a useful follow-on discussion. Nice to see some valid maths on the web, for a change.

    Do you have an impression as to what 'share' of the decline in "mortality by vices" is associated with government policy or programs (e.g. in health care and anti-alcohol campaigning), and what 'share' could be characterized as a natural result of a generally increasing standard of living?

    Thanks!

    Do you have an impression as to what ‘share’ of the decline in “mortality by vices” is associated with government policy or programs (e.g. in health care and anti-alcohol campaigning), and what ‘share’ could be characterized as a natural result of a generally increasing standard of living?

    It’s hard to say, obviously.

    On the fertility side, I think improvements are quite clearly linked to both the rising economy, and the expansion of social welfare – especially in 2009, which counteracted the effects of the economic crisis. In contrast, country that cut benefits tended to have falls in fertility levels. The clearest example of this is Latvia.

    In mortality, again its a combination of the two. As incomes raise, more can be spent on healthcare, and people tend to make better informed lifestyle choices (switching from cheap vodka to other beverages, and giving up smoking). On the other hand, direct government intervention, such as rising excise taxes on vodka, and the banning of advertising, clearly has had its effects too. A comparison with Ukraine is instructive. Ukraine traditionally has had a slightly higher LE than Russia, but in the last couple of years Russia seems to have drawn level with it. Part of the explanation may lie in that vodka in Ukraine is now significantly cheaper than in Russia.

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  • @Sergey
    Anatoly,

    regarding why Rosstat has a drop in fertility in the Middle scenario. It's just a speculation, but they might assume that recent increase in TFR is a temporary blip, and it'll start increasing only later when cumulative effect of pro-natal policies shows up. Similar dynamics is assumed in the Low scenario. Only the High scenario sees monotonically increasing TFR towards 1.85.

    BTW, September births again set a record - the best September since early 1990s. More births than deaths. June-September still saw a natural increase. Jan-Sep births are just a whisker below than in 2010 (-0.6%), but there are 5.9% less deaths.

    I don’t disagree with your point, but I don’t see why all the skepticism about a stall in the population decline. If you look at the graph of Russia’s exports and imports, http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/1797538, you can see that Russia’s economic growth is real and rapid. Both are increasing exponentially, interrupted only by the 2008 global super recession and have recovered their levels and exponential growth as of this year.

    This exponential growth is not artifact of Russian inflation (which was low in 2011) since this is measured in dollars. It also has little to do with oil prices. At $90 per barrel, Russia’s total exported production (7.3 million barrels per day) brings in 240 billion dollars. But as of 2011 Russia is exporting 600 billion dollars per year. The 400 billion in imports can’t be explained by Russia’s oil exports either and there is not sign of any change around 2005 when oil prices increased.

    Birth rates and mortality rates are linked to the economic state of the society. This is has been demonstrated quite clearly in Russia during the last 20 years.

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    • Replies: @Mark
    Combined with partners Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Russia exports 10 times the steel North America does, and about half of what it uses domestically every year is domestically supplied as well. Russia is a net exporter by a wide margin, while North America is a net importer.

    http://www.issb.co.uk/

    It is instructive to note that Russia achieves this without enjoying most-favoured-nation alliances with anyone in the west and is not a member of the WTO. I have therefore gone from strongly advocating Russia's acceptance into the WTO to strongly advocating Russia's telling the WTO to go pound sand up it's downward-pointing orifice, and extracting concessions from the "great powers" in exchange for joining.

    It's hard to imagine Russia ever running out of timber; it has enough to supply the world with lumber. Although Russia is somewhere around fifth in the world in production of gold, its reserves of gold are second only to those of South Africa. It is extremely rich in a variety of minerals and the diversity of its geology suggests it probably has significant deposits of rare earths as well, although little exploration has been conducted to date.

    Suggestions that Russia has "nothing but oil and gas" are nonsense, and constant western media advice to Russia that it is courting disaster by relying on oil and gas for economic growth are likewise nonsense. Gas and oil are easy money, and until the world begins to diversify away from a petroleum economy, Russia would be foolish to give up the advantage that being world's largest energy producer conveys upon it - if the USA were the world's largest energy producer, would it be likely to limit its production in order to diversify into textiles or plastics, when there was serious money to be made by its oil companies? Ha, ha; as if. There is no indication thus far that the likely successors to President and Prime Minister of Russia are foolish, either.

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  • @yalensis
    Litvinenko was a British spy?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6_1Pw1xm9U

    Litvinenko was first and foremost a clown. A useful idiot who was expendable. If you want a motive for his killing then look at the stream of embarrassment he was generating for his patron Berezovsky and for the patrons of Berezovsky himself, the UK government, before the time of his death. The whole “Putin killed Litvinenko” drivel has got to be one of the most inane conspiracy theories of all time. Litvinenko was an asset for Putin.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Let me completely (but respectfully) disagree with you, Doug.

    Estonia's LE peaked at 71.0 years in 1967 and again at around 71 in 1986-88, before exceeding these figures at 71.2 in 2002 and continuing rapid growth to 75.2 by 2009 (at a rate of 5.7 yrs / decade after passing Soviet-era peak).

    Latvia's LE peaked at 71.5 in 1964 and again at around 71 in the late 1980's, only again reaching 71.5 in 2004 and sing then going to 73.4 by 2009 (at a rate of 3.8 yrs / decade after passing Soviet-era peak).

    I would also note that both countries (even Latvia) continued to see big improvements during the current economic crisis.

    Russia's LE peaked at 69.9 in 1964 and at 70.0 in 1986-87. With mortality rates currently down by 6% relative to last year, it is expected to reach the 70 year mark this year, in 2011.

    As you can see, the Baltics' profiles are rather similar to Russia's, which also dropped to a 50 year low during the transition shock (well, actually, I don't like attributing "transition shock" to the 1990's drop in LE: the real cause of the LE drop across most of the industrialized USSR was due not to the degradation of the Soviet healthcare system, which was crappy to begin with anyway, but the unraveling of its vodka monopoly and vodka becoming much cheaper, but I digress).

    The biggest exception that Russia will past its Soviet-era peak quite a lot later than the Baltics. (Interesting factoid: Moscow's LE tracks Latvia's almost exactly, reaching its Soviet-era peak of 70 by 2003 and increasing to 73.6 by 2009 - a rate of 6 yrs / decade; Moscow, of course, is a special case in that it is about 5-10 years ahead of the Russian average in economic development, and consequently social/health spending and presumably LE trends).

    This is a very useful post. I still keep on hearing that Russian life expectancy is only slightly improved on the 58 year nadir.

    Interesting how the criminal shock therapy of the early 1990s by the Yeltsin regime and the damage it wrought in its wake is an attribute of Russia, never to be condemned. You have to prove to various twits that 70 years is closer to the mark even with all the alcoholism.

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    • Replies: @Doug M.
    Apropos of the alcoholism, I note in passing that no policy of Gorbachev's is more loathed, more despised, more condemned by historical memory than his anti-alcohol campaign.

    You can find Russians who view the Gulag system as a harsh historical necessity, and who see the Holodomor as an inevitable side effect of industrialization. You can find Russians who adore the memory of Czar Nicholas. But you'll have to look very hard to find a Russian who has anything positive to say about Gorbachev's historic attempt to wean Russia off the bottle.

    The current government seems to be attempting the same thing, but much more cautiously, by very slow and gradual increments over the course of a generation. Maybe this will work! Let's watch.


    Doug M.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Pretty much what Sergey said.

    I'd also note that I didn't specify the time-frame. So, if the TFR were to steadily increase from today until 2020 until reaching 1.8, say, then it will actually "fully" counteract these adverse trends. Of course, to continue counteracting them after 2020 it would have to rise to above replacement level rates, which is unlikely in the extreme. Hence the "even" qualifier.

    You will see from the actual forecasts here and here that none of the S/O model runs show a non-fall in BR's.

    (taking 2010′s real figure of 12.5 as a base in both cases)

    You absolutely cannot do that, delete it quick before Sergey sees it.

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  • @Doug M.
    The Baltic states saw their LEs drop to a 50-year low in the 1990s, because of transition shock. All they had to do was recover from that sharp but temporary setback.

    But Russia's LE is currently near its all-time *high*, and the transition shock is now long past.

    So I'm not thinking it's a very useful comparison.


    Doug M.

    Let me completely (but respectfully) disagree with you, Doug.

    Estonia’s LE peaked at 71.0 years in 1967 and again at around 71 in 1986-88, before exceeding these figures at 71.2 in 2002 and continuing rapid growth to 75.2 by 2009 (at a rate of 5.7 yrs / decade after passing Soviet-era peak).

    Latvia’s LE peaked at 71.5 in 1964 and again at around 71 in the late 1980′s, only again reaching 71.5 in 2004 and sing then going to 73.4 by 2009 (at a rate of 3.8 yrs / decade after passing Soviet-era peak).

    I would also note that both countries (even Latvia) continued to see big improvements during the current economic crisis.

    Russia’s LE peaked at 69.9 in 1964 and at 70.0 in 1986-87. With mortality rates currently down by 6% relative to last year, it is expected to reach the 70 year mark this year, in 2011.

    As you can see, the Baltics’ profiles are rather similar to Russia’s, which also dropped to a 50 year low during the transition shock (well, actually, I don’t like attributing “transition shock” to the 1990′s drop in LE: the real cause of the LE drop across most of the industrialized USSR was due not to the degradation of the Soviet healthcare system, which was crappy to begin with anyway, but the unraveling of its vodka monopoly and vodka becoming much cheaper, but I digress).

    The biggest exception that Russia will past its Soviet-era peak quite a lot later than the Baltics. (Interesting factoid: Moscow’s LE tracks Latvia’s almost exactly, reaching its Soviet-era peak of 70 by 2003 and increasing to 73.6 by 2009 – a rate of 6 yrs / decade; Moscow, of course, is a special case in that it is about 5-10 years ahead of the Russian average in economic development, and consequently social/health spending and presumably LE trends).

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    • Replies: @kirill
    This is a very useful post. I still keep on hearing that Russian life expectancy is only slightly improved on the 58 year nadir.

    Interesting how the criminal shock therapy of the early 1990s by the Yeltsin regime and the damage it wrought in its wake is an attribute of Russia, never to be condemned. You have to prove to various twits that 70 years is closer to the mark even with all the alcoholism.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Pretty much what Sergey said.

    I'd also note that I didn't specify the time-frame. So, if the TFR were to steadily increase from today until 2020 until reaching 1.8, say, then it will actually "fully" counteract these adverse trends. Of course, to continue counteracting them after 2020 it would have to rise to above replacement level rates, which is unlikely in the extreme. Hence the "even" qualifier.

    You will see from the actual forecasts here and here that none of the S/O model runs show a non-fall in BR's.

    Rosstat predicts 20% down from today by 2018-2022 (depending on scenario) and further 10% by 2030…

    Well according to Rosstat’s High one, it’s down by 10% by 2020, and 22% by 2030 (taking 2010′s real figure of 12.5 as a base in both cases). So my “as little as 20% and only by the early 2030′s” is hardly off the plausibility charts (I would remind you at this point that Russia pulled off the High scenario of Rosstat’s High 2000 forecast according to your own link you originally gave me).

    And as I said above, I really doubt Rosstat bothered to adjust for the expected increase of the average age of childbirth (which in Russia’s case would make a significant contribution in raising BR’s). For instance, when I modeled my TFR at a constant 1.75, I got a BR trough in 2034 at 9.7. Despite Rosstat’s TFR in their High scenario going above 1.75 as early as 2017 and reaching 1.85 by 2030, their BR’s seem to trough by the late 2020′s at 9.6. This suggests to me that they neglected to account for the increasing average age at childbirth.

    And they are right, in a way. It’s apples and oranges: longer-living pensioners and gastarbeiters are hardly an equivalent substitute for unborn children. The total population number is just too crude an indicator to be of much use outside of domestic propaganda.

    No, it is just a different form of propaganda. If it isn’t, then why did the Russophobes delight so much in talking about Russia’s plummeting population back in the 2000′s? Why is your heroine La Russophobe’s new blog called “Dying Russia“?

    Same goes for immigrants and older-lived people. Whether they are good or bad all depends on your ideological outlook. For that matter, I recall that when I said at SWP’s that one of the silver linings of Russia’s high mortality is that it relieves the burden on the pensions system – despite my qualifications it was still a tragic state of affairs – I was immediately assaulted by the legions of Russophobes as a demented Stalinist despite the statement being a simple fact. No matter what someone like myself says, I will always be a victim of the Russophobes.

    Anyone, going on… In commentary on the subject, there are countless statements to the effect that “Russia’s problem isn’t its fertility, but it’s high mortality rates.” Including according to La Russophobe itself, who constantly rants about Russia’s position in the global LE rankings. So according to them, improvements in the latter should be a big deal, no? You can’t have it both ways, Peter.

    Finally, this apples / oranges thing kind of misses the point. Longer-lived does not necessarily equate to more pensioners, as the pensions age can be raised (something that much of Europe is now belatedly realizing). Which is quite fair, as the average 65 year old today is far healthier and more able than his counterpart in 1950. Interventions, including at the genetic level, may be developed in the coming decades that will greatly expand LE. What would we be to do then, have everyone continue retiring at 60. Bizarre. Retirement will eventually have to be coupled with rising LE. And what’s wrong about Gasterbeiters (excluding the hurt feelings of the racist Russian liberals who tend to despise “Asiatics” and their nationalist/fascist ideological buddies)?

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  • Anatoly,

    regarding why Rosstat has a drop in fertility in the Middle scenario. It’s just a speculation, but they might assume that recent increase in TFR is a temporary blip, and it’ll start increasing only later when cumulative effect of pro-natal policies shows up. Similar dynamics is assumed in the Low scenario. Only the High scenario sees monotonically increasing TFR towards 1.85.

    BTW, September births again set a record – the best September since early 1990s. More births than deaths. June-September still saw a natural increase. Jan-Sep births are just a whisker below than in 2010 (-0.6%), but there are 5.9% less deaths.

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    • Replies: @kirill
    I don't disagree with your point, but I don't see why all the skepticism about a stall in the population decline. If you look at the graph of Russia's exports and imports, http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/1797538, you can see that Russia's economic growth is real and rapid. Both are increasing exponentially, interrupted only by the 2008 global super recession and have recovered their levels and exponential growth as of this year.

    This exponential growth is not artifact of Russian inflation (which was low in 2011) since this is measured in dollars. It also has little to do with oil prices. At $90 per barrel, Russia's total exported production (7.3 million barrels per day) brings in 240 billion dollars. But as of 2011 Russia is exporting 600 billion dollars per year. The 400 billion in imports can't be explained by Russia's oil exports either and there is not sign of any change around 2005 when oil prices increased.

    Birth rates and mortality rates are linked to the economic state of the society. This is has been demonstrated quite clearly in Russia during the last 20 years.

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  • @Doug M.
    The Baltic states saw their LEs drop to a 50-year low in the 1990s, because of transition shock. All they had to do was recover from that sharp but temporary setback.

    But Russia's LE is currently near its all-time *high*, and the transition shock is now long past.

    So I'm not thinking it's a very useful comparison.


    Doug M.

    The “transition chock” was not as severe for the Baltic nations as it was for Russia. Thus, today Life Exp in Estonia, Latvia already surpasses that of any previous period by a couple of years. Life expectancy never dipped below 68 years in any baltic nations in the 1990s.

    I would guestimate that there is a roughly 50/50 chance of russian life expectancy exceeding 75 years by 2025. They still have some easy catch-up to make.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Great post, and a useful follow-on discussion. Nice to see some valid maths on the web, for a change.

    Do you have an impression as to what ‘share’ of the decline in “mortality by vices” is associated with government policy or programs (e.g. in health care and anti-alcohol campaigning), and what ‘share’ could be characterized as a natural result of a generally increasing standard of living?

    Thanks!

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Do you have an impression as to what ‘share’ of the decline in “mortality by vices” is associated with government policy or programs (e.g. in health care and anti-alcohol campaigning), and what ‘share’ could be characterized as a natural result of a generally increasing standard of living?

    It's hard to say, obviously.

    On the fertility side, I think improvements are quite clearly linked to both the rising economy, and the expansion of social welfare - especially in 2009, which counteracted the effects of the economic crisis. In contrast, country that cut benefits tended to have falls in fertility levels. The clearest example of this is Latvia.

    In mortality, again its a combination of the two. As incomes raise, more can be spent on healthcare, and people tend to make better informed lifestyle choices (switching from cheap vodka to other beverages, and giving up smoking). On the other hand, direct government intervention, such as rising excise taxes on vodka, and the banning of advertising, clearly has had its effects too. A comparison with Ukraine is instructive. Ukraine traditionally has had a slightly higher LE than Russia, but in the last couple of years Russia seems to have drawn level with it. Part of the explanation may lie in that vodka in Ukraine is now significantly cheaper than in Russia.

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  • @Doug M.
    The Baltic states saw their LEs drop to a 50-year low in the 1990s, because of transition shock. All they had to do was recover from that sharp but temporary setback.

    But Russia's LE is currently near its all-time *high*, and the transition shock is now long past.

    So I'm not thinking it's a very useful comparison.


    Doug M.

    Dear Doug,

    I am not sure I understand this. Are you saying that there is a fixed upper limit to Russian life expectancy, which is below that in other places such as for example the Baltic States? Apologies in advance if I have misunderstood you or if my question appears dense but this whole subject is not an easy one for me.

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    • Replies: @Doug M.
    No, not a fixed upper limit. But moving Russian LE past 70 is something that no Russian government has ever yet been able to do -- even given the flattish income distribution, decent standard of living, and (relatively!) competent and efficient public health system of the post-Stalin Soviet years. This suggests that there are some hardwired challenges, structural or cultural, that will not easily be overcome.

    Since a rising life expectancy is correlated with various good things -- lower infant mortality, better health generally -- I'd be happy to be wrong about this.

    Doug M.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Pretty much what Sergey said.

    I'd also note that I didn't specify the time-frame. So, if the TFR were to steadily increase from today until 2020 until reaching 1.8, say, then it will actually "fully" counteract these adverse trends. Of course, to continue counteracting them after 2020 it would have to rise to above replacement level rates, which is unlikely in the extreme. Hence the "even" qualifier.

    You will see from the actual forecasts here and here that none of the S/O model runs show a non-fall in BR's.

    … in reality they may fall by as little as 20% and only by the early 2030′s

    Rosstat predicts 20% down from today by 2018-2022 (depending on scenario) and further 10% by 2030, so I guess your “as little as 20% and only by the early 2030′s” is about as realistic as your straw-Russophobe-man’s “40% and soon”.

    … dismissing the counteracting effects of any rise in LE or net immigration.

    And they are right, in a way. It’s apples and oranges: longer-living pensioners and gastarbeiters are hardly an equivalent substitute for unborn children. The total population number is just too crude an indicator to be of much use outside of domestic propaganda.

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  • @Dalton
    Sorry to get off topic but I think the readers will appreciate this story:

    "My husband was a British Paid Agent" - Litvinenko widow
    http://rt.com/news/litvinenko-british-intelligence-lugovoy-979/

    It appears Litvinenko was working for British Intelligence.

    Litvinenko was a British spy?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6_1Pw1xm9U

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    • Replies: @kirill
    Litvinenko was first and foremost a clown. A useful idiot who was expendable. If you want a motive for his killing then look at the stream of embarrassment he was generating for his patron Berezovsky and for the patrons of Berezovsky himself, the UK government, before the time of his death. The whole "Putin killed Litvinenko" drivel has got to be one of the most inane conspiracy theories of all time. Litvinenko was an asset for Putin.
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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    @Doug,

    Because even using the super-liberal old methodology, we’ll just barely make that figure for 2011; we didn’t for the last two years, and probably won’t for the next two.

    But note that the Census showed the population to be 142.9 million, that is, almost one million higher than estimated - thanks to the fact that migrants were under-counted. Rosstat estimates the great bulk of this under-counting took place in the early to mid-2000's, when the registration system was actually stricter. But the method from the end of the mid-2000's until last seems to have been basically accurate. (Plus the reason they continue using it, if in an unofficial capacity?)

    I hope Sergey Slobodyan could throw in a comment here. He knows a lot more details about this than I do.

    That said, I think 150,000-200,000 is plausible too. A lot will depend on relative economic performance between Russia and the Caucasus/Stans. Ironically, if the Eurasian Union ends up improving labor mobility, immigration to Russia may even decrease more than it otherwise would, as there would not be so much incentives to stay once you succeed in getting in (that is, if getting in again should you want to is easier).

    I also expect the death rate to fall, though more slowly than you’re claiming. A life expectancy of 75 by the early 2020s is probably impossible. Most of that would necessarily come from a rise in male life expectancy, which would have to increase by 8-10 years over the next 10-12.

    Not necessarily, and at this point I would make a direct comparison with countries like Estonia or Latvia (which had a very similar over-drinking problem but one that has ameliorated somewhat in the past decade) - which started consistently growing earlier than Russia, as well as raising excise taxes on vodka, cutting down on ads, etc.

    As of 2009, Russia's LE was 68.7 (M: 62.7, F: 74.7); it rose to 69.1 in 2010, and on current trends, it will be 70 this year. Broadly speaking, it is where Latvia was in 1996-1998 (LE ranged 68.9-69.6) and to Estonia in 1996-1998 (LE ranged 69.7-70.1). Since then, both countries have seen continues growth in LE, and in 2009 Latvia hit 73.4 and Estonia hit 75.2. Furthermore, both saw respectable drops in DR's during the crisis, so they would have risen still further in 2010.

    In other words, we have, over a decade, a rise of 4-4.5 years in Latvia and of 5.0-5.5 years in Estonia during the past decade. As such, assuming that Russia continues investing in healthcare facilities, continues the anti-alcohol and anti-tobacco campaigns (including raising excise taxes on spirits), etc., then an increase of 5 years by 2020 does seem realistic IMO.

    BTW, the improvements don't necessarily have to be concentrated to such an extent among the men. In the two Baltic countries, women's LE also grew by 3-5 years. The increase for men will thus only have to be 5-7 years, not 8-10.

    The Baltic states saw their LEs drop to a 50-year low in the 1990s, because of transition shock. All they had to do was recover from that sharp but temporary setback.

    But Russia’s LE is currently near its all-time *high*, and the transition shock is now long past.

    So I’m not thinking it’s a very useful comparison.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Doug,

    I am not sure I understand this. Are you saying that there is a fixed upper limit to Russian life expectancy, which is below that in other places such as for example the Baltic States? Apologies in advance if I have misunderstood you or if my question appears dense but this whole subject is not an easy one for me.

    , @zeb
    The "transition chock" was not as severe for the Baltic nations as it was for Russia. Thus, today Life Exp in Estonia, Latvia already surpasses that of any previous period by a couple of years. Life expectancy never dipped below 68 years in any baltic nations in the 1990s.

    I would guestimate that there is a roughly 50/50 chance of russian life expectancy exceeding 75 years by 2025. They still have some easy catch-up to make.

    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Let me completely (but respectfully) disagree with you, Doug.

    Estonia's LE peaked at 71.0 years in 1967 and again at around 71 in 1986-88, before exceeding these figures at 71.2 in 2002 and continuing rapid growth to 75.2 by 2009 (at a rate of 5.7 yrs / decade after passing Soviet-era peak).

    Latvia's LE peaked at 71.5 in 1964 and again at around 71 in the late 1980's, only again reaching 71.5 in 2004 and sing then going to 73.4 by 2009 (at a rate of 3.8 yrs / decade after passing Soviet-era peak).

    I would also note that both countries (even Latvia) continued to see big improvements during the current economic crisis.

    Russia's LE peaked at 69.9 in 1964 and at 70.0 in 1986-87. With mortality rates currently down by 6% relative to last year, it is expected to reach the 70 year mark this year, in 2011.

    As you can see, the Baltics' profiles are rather similar to Russia's, which also dropped to a 50 year low during the transition shock (well, actually, I don't like attributing "transition shock" to the 1990's drop in LE: the real cause of the LE drop across most of the industrialized USSR was due not to the degradation of the Soviet healthcare system, which was crappy to begin with anyway, but the unraveling of its vodka monopoly and vodka becoming much cheaper, but I digress).

    The biggest exception that Russia will past its Soviet-era peak quite a lot later than the Baltics. (Interesting factoid: Moscow's LE tracks Latvia's almost exactly, reaching its Soviet-era peak of 70 by 2003 and increasing to 73.6 by 2009 - a rate of 6 yrs / decade; Moscow, of course, is a special case in that it is about 5-10 years ahead of the Russian average in economic development, and consequently social/health spending and presumably LE trends).

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Pretty much what Sergey said.

    I'd also note that I didn't specify the time-frame. So, if the TFR were to steadily increase from today until 2020 until reaching 1.8, say, then it will actually "fully" counteract these adverse trends. Of course, to continue counteracting them after 2020 it would have to rise to above replacement level rates, which is unlikely in the extreme. Hence the "even" qualifier.

    You will see from the actual forecasts here and here that none of the S/O model runs show a non-fall in BR's.

    then how is that a Russophobe myth?

    Let me clarify. Many Russophobes assert that (1) birth rates will fall by 40% from today’s levels and soon (whereas in reality they may fall by as little as 20% and only by the early 2030′s, that is if the TFR rises to say 1.75) and (2) they likewise assert that this will inevitably lead to a resumption in early 2000′s-like population freefall, dismissing the counteracting effects of any rise in LE or net immigration.

    My beef with them is that they intentionally portray the worst realistic scenario as a given.

    Besides, there seems to be a big problem with your birth rate graphs in the short term

    They are a lot higher in the projections done on the main post because I assumed rather rapid rises in TFR that would level off sharply in 2015 (Low, Medium) or 2020 (High), whereas Rosstat has only a slow increase in the High scenario, and in the Medium scenario, actually a short-term DECREASE, for whatever reason, hence the BR peaking at a relatively low level and then declining quickly.

    In retrospect, the projections I did on Nobody’s request in a separate comment look more plausible on the fertility side. They tend to peak at 2013-14. The reason they differ from Rosstat is that (1) as mention above, in Rosstat’s Medium scenario they actually project a short-term decrease in the TFR with recovery in its value to 2011 projected levels only occuring by 2016, and (2) I’m not sure if Rosstat takes into account the increasing average age of mothers at childbirth, which is steadily rising in Russia (as in the West) and having the the effect of mitigating the aging of the big late-Soviet female cohort.

    I don’t know on what basis the Rosstat Medium scenario projects this short-term decrease in the TFR. My current assumption is that it will continue to modestly increase and level off somewhere around 1.7-1.8 as growing wealth enables Russians to increase family size closer to the desired size they indicate in polls.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Pretty much what Sergey said.

    I'd also note that I didn't specify the time-frame. So, if the TFR were to steadily increase from today until 2020 until reaching 1.8, say, then it will actually "fully" counteract these adverse trends. Of course, to continue counteracting them after 2020 it would have to rise to above replacement level rates, which is unlikely in the extreme. Hence the "even" qualifier.

    You will see from the actual forecasts here and here that none of the S/O model runs show a non-fall in BR's.

    You will see from the actual forecasts here and here that none of the S/O model runs show a non-fall in BR’s.

    Oops, now I’m confused. If even all your own simulations predict the birth rate to tumble by a third in the decade after 2015, then how is that a Russophobe myth?

    Besides, there seems to be a big problem with your birth rate graphs in the short term: your peaks are a lot higher (13-15.5 vs 11.1-13.2) and later in time (2015-2017 vs 2011) than those in Rosstat’s current projections (4MB pdf file, pp 505-7). Any ideas?

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Let me rephrase you first question to demonstrate its absurdity: "Do you really think that life in Europe for the last generation or so is getting better, while 100% and even more is compensated by migrants?"

    The CIA uses outdated figures and their own in-house projections of TFR and LE that can quickly diverge from real world developments. Quite simply, keeping up to date with national statistics services is not at the top of their priority list. Read their own FAQ. Or read this.

    Do you really think that life in Russia is getting better, while 100% of death rate and even more is compensated by migrants?

    Sorry, twas my mistake.
    But is not making demography situation in Russia any better. Or in countries, where these migrants came from. I do not think they came because of love for Russia.

    Ok, CIA losers, I admit it. It looks much like projection. But I do not quite believe official statistics either.

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    • Replies: @Mark
    The USA, Russia's most vocal critic, has itself been below the replacement birth rate for decades except a brief blip in 2008/09, and would be sliding backward except for the combined positive of immigration and an anomalously high birth rate in Hispanics. Expressed as a world problem, birth rates have been in steady decline for decades. Yet this is frequently portrayed as a uniquely Russian problem.

    Immigrants indeed may not come for love of Russia. What, then, inspires them? Possibility of better lives? How is that a negative? Georgia and Russia, officially, have no love for one another. Where's the biggest Georgian diaspora? Russia.

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  • @Doug M.
    Might as well put my own predictions on the table.

    I've said before that I think 150,000-200,000 is a much more plausible number for immigration. (Note that this neatly splits the difference between the liberal "old" method and conservative "new" one.)

    Like you, I expect Russia's TFR to remain between 1.45 and 1.65 for a while -- Russia can still keep TFR stable or gently rising by cohort effects alone, as the average age at first birth is still quite low. Combined with the crash in the numbers of childbearing-age women, this will indeed cause the birthrate to start dropping after 2014 or so. (Watch for alarms both within Russia and outside it as this happens.)

    I also expect the death rate to fall, though more slowly than you're claiming. A life expectancy of 75 by the early 2020s is probably impossible. Most of that would necessarily come from a rise in male life expectancy, which would have to increase by 8-10 years over the next 10-12. Basically, Russian men would have to stop dying for a few years. That's just not going to happen. (I note in passing that Russian male life expectancy has *never* gone over 65 -- not under the Soviets, not under the czars.) An increase to 75 by 2030 is right at the bleeding edge of possibility.

    Finally, there's one demographic effect that is going widely unnoticed, and that is the rise of the economically independent post-childbearing woman. For 30 years now, the pattern for Russian women has been "have a kid or two in your early twenties, then stop". As a result, a 45 year old Russian woman is much more likely to have no children at home than her German or French counterpart. (By way of comparison, my wife and I started having kids well into our 30s; as a result, our youngest won't reach 18 until we are both over 60.) She also has an excellent chance of becoming a widow within the next decade (since her husband is likely a few years older, and quite a lot of Russian men don't reach 60). In any event, she'll probably have two or three decades of active life between the time the last kid leaves the nest and whenever she retires. I don't know what effect, if any, this may have -- but it's interesting, and probably worth noting.


    Doug M.

    @Doug,

    Because even using the super-liberal old methodology, we’ll just barely make that figure for 2011; we didn’t for the last two years, and probably won’t for the next two.

    But note that the Census showed the population to be 142.9 million, that is, almost one million higher than estimated – thanks to the fact that migrants were under-counted. Rosstat estimates the great bulk of this under-counting took place in the early to mid-2000′s, when the registration system was actually stricter. But the method from the end of the mid-2000′s until last seems to have been basically accurate. (Plus the reason they continue using it, if in an unofficial capacity?)

    I hope Sergey Slobodyan could throw in a comment here. He knows a lot more details about this than I do.

    That said, I think 150,000-200,000 is plausible too. A lot will depend on relative economic performance between Russia and the Caucasus/Stans. Ironically, if the Eurasian Union ends up improving labor mobility, immigration to Russia may even decrease more than it otherwise would, as there would not be so much incentives to stay once you succeed in getting in (that is, if getting in again should you want to is easier).

    I also expect the death rate to fall, though more slowly than you’re claiming. A life expectancy of 75 by the early 2020s is probably impossible. Most of that would necessarily come from a rise in male life expectancy, which would have to increase by 8-10 years over the next 10-12.

    Not necessarily, and at this point I would make a direct comparison with countries like Estonia or Latvia (which had a very similar over-drinking problem but one that has ameliorated somewhat in the past decade) – which started consistently growing earlier than Russia, as well as raising excise taxes on vodka, cutting down on ads, etc.

    As of 2009, Russia’s LE was 68.7 (M: 62.7, F: 74.7); it rose to 69.1 in 2010, and on current trends, it will be 70 this year. Broadly speaking, it is where Latvia was in 1996-1998 (LE ranged 68.9-69.6) and to Estonia in 1996-1998 (LE ranged 69.7-70.1). Since then, both countries have seen continues growth in LE, and in 2009 Latvia hit 73.4 and Estonia hit 75.2. Furthermore, both saw respectable drops in DR’s during the crisis, so they would have risen still further in 2010.

    In other words, we have, over a decade, a rise of 4-4.5 years in Latvia and of 5.0-5.5 years in Estonia during the past decade. As such, assuming that Russia continues investing in healthcare facilities, continues the anti-alcohol and anti-tobacco campaigns (including raising excise taxes on spirits), etc., then an increase of 5 years by 2020 does seem realistic IMO.

    BTW, the improvements don’t necessarily have to be concentrated to such an extent among the men. In the two Baltic countries, women’s LE also grew by 3-5 years. The increase for men will thus only have to be 5-7 years, not 8-10.

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    • Replies: @Doug M.
    The Baltic states saw their LEs drop to a 50-year low in the 1990s, because of transition shock. All they had to do was recover from that sharp but temporary setback.

    But Russia's LE is currently near its all-time *high*, and the transition shock is now long past.

    So I'm not thinking it's a very useful comparison.


    Doug M.

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  • @peter

    When have I *ever* said that birth rates will not go down sometime in the near future?
     
    Here you dismiss as a Russophobe myth the idea that "since the 1990′s cohort is about 40% smaller, birth rates will tumble again," and claim that "a growing TFR will be able to partially, OR EVEN FULLY [all caps mine], counteract these adverse trends."

    Pretty much what Sergey said.

    I’d also note that I didn’t specify the time-frame. So, if the TFR were to steadily increase from today until 2020 until reaching 1.8, say, then it will actually “fully” counteract these adverse trends. Of course, to continue counteracting them after 2020 it would have to rise to above replacement level rates, which is unlikely in the extreme. Hence the “even” qualifier.

    You will see from the actual forecasts here and here that none of the S/O model runs show a non-fall in BR’s.

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    • Replies: @peter

    You will see from the actual forecasts here and here that none of the S/O model runs show a non-fall in BR’s.
     
    Oops, now I'm confused. If even all your own simulations predict the birth rate to tumble by a third in the decade after 2015, then how is that a Russophobe myth?

    Besides, there seems to be a big problem with your birth rate graphs in the short term: your peaks are a lot higher (13-15.5 vs 11.1-13.2) and later in time (2015-2017 vs 2011) than those in Rosstat's current projections (4MB pdf file, pp 505-7). Any ideas?

    , @Anatoly Karlin
    then how is that a Russophobe myth?

    Let me clarify. Many Russophobes assert that (1) birth rates will fall by 40% from today's levels and soon (whereas in reality they may fall by as little as 20% and only by the early 2030's, that is if the TFR rises to say 1.75) and (2) they likewise assert that this will inevitably lead to a resumption in early 2000's-like population freefall, dismissing the counteracting effects of any rise in LE or net immigration.

    My beef with them is that they intentionally portray the worst realistic scenario as a given.

    Besides, there seems to be a big problem with your birth rate graphs in the short term

    They are a lot higher in the projections done on the main post because I assumed rather rapid rises in TFR that would level off sharply in 2015 (Low, Medium) or 2020 (High), whereas Rosstat has only a slow increase in the High scenario, and in the Medium scenario, actually a short-term DECREASE, for whatever reason, hence the BR peaking at a relatively low level and then declining quickly.

    In retrospect, the projections I did on Nobody's request in a separate comment look more plausible on the fertility side. They tend to peak at 2013-14. The reason they differ from Rosstat is that (1) as mention above, in Rosstat's Medium scenario they actually project a short-term decrease in the TFR with recovery in its value to 2011 projected levels only occuring by 2016, and (2) I'm not sure if Rosstat takes into account the increasing average age of mothers at childbirth, which is steadily rising in Russia (as in the West) and having the the effect of mitigating the aging of the big late-Soviet female cohort.

    I don't know on what basis the Rosstat Medium scenario projects this short-term decrease in the TFR. My current assumption is that it will continue to modestly increase and level off somewhere around 1.7-1.8 as growing wealth enables Russians to increase family size closer to the desired size they indicate in polls.

    , @peter

    ... in reality they may fall by as little as 20% and only by the early 2030′s
     
    Rosstat predicts 20% down from today by 2018-2022 (depending on scenario) and further 10% by 2030, so I guess your "as little as 20% and only by the early 2030′s" is about as realistic as your straw-Russophobe-man's "40% and soon".

    ... dismissing the counteracting effects of any rise in LE or net immigration.
     
    And they are right, in a way. It's apples and oranges: longer-living pensioners and gastarbeiters are hardly an equivalent substitute for unborn children. The total population number is just too crude an indicator to be of much use outside of domestic propaganda.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Rosstat predicts 20% down from today by 2018-2022 (depending on scenario) and further 10% by 2030...

    Well according to Rosstat's High one, it's down by 10% by 2020, and 22% by 2030 (taking 2010's real figure of 12.5 as a base in both cases). So my "as little as 20% and only by the early 2030′s" is hardly off the plausibility charts (I would remind you at this point that Russia pulled off the High scenario of Rosstat's High 2000 forecast according to your own link you originally gave me).

    And as I said above, I really doubt Rosstat bothered to adjust for the expected increase of the average age of childbirth (which in Russia's case would make a significant contribution in raising BR's). For instance, when I modeled my TFR at a constant 1.75, I got a BR trough in 2034 at 9.7. Despite Rosstat's TFR in their High scenario going above 1.75 as early as 2017 and reaching 1.85 by 2030, their BR's seem to trough by the late 2020's at 9.6. This suggests to me that they neglected to account for the increasing average age at childbirth.

    And they are right, in a way. It’s apples and oranges: longer-living pensioners and gastarbeiters are hardly an equivalent substitute for unborn children. The total population number is just too crude an indicator to be of much use outside of domestic propaganda.

    No, it is just a different form of propaganda. If it isn't, then why did the Russophobes delight so much in talking about Russia's plummeting population back in the 2000's? Why is your heroine La Russophobe's new blog called "Dying Russia"?

    Same goes for immigrants and older-lived people. Whether they are good or bad all depends on your ideological outlook. For that matter, I recall that when I said at SWP's that one of the silver linings of Russia's high mortality is that it relieves the burden on the pensions system - despite my qualifications it was still a tragic state of affairs - I was immediately assaulted by the legions of Russophobes as a demented Stalinist despite the statement being a simple fact. No matter what someone like myself says, I will always be a victim of the Russophobes.

    Anyone, going on... In commentary on the subject, there are countless statements to the effect that "Russia's problem isn't its fertility, but it's high mortality rates." Including according to La Russophobe itself, who constantly rants about Russia's position in the global LE rankings. So according to them, improvements in the latter should be a big deal, no? You can't have it both ways, Peter.

    Finally, this apples / oranges thing kind of misses the point. Longer-lived does not necessarily equate to more pensioners, as the pensions age can be raised (something that much of Europe is now belatedly realizing). Which is quite fair, as the average 65 year old today is far healthier and more able than his counterpart in 1950. Interventions, including at the genetic level, may be developed in the coming decades that will greatly expand LE. What would we be to do then, have everyone continue retiring at 60. Bizarre. Retirement will eventually have to be coupled with rising LE. And what's wrong about Gasterbeiters (excluding the hurt feelings of the racist Russian liberals who tend to despise "Asiatics" and their nationalist/fascist ideological buddies)?

    , @peter

    (taking 2010′s real figure of 12.5 as a base in both cases)
     
    You absolutely cannot do that, delete it quick before Sergey sees it.
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  • Sorry to get off topic but I think the readers will appreciate this story:

    “My husband was a British Paid Agent” – Litvinenko widow

    http://rt.com/news/litvinenko-british-intelligence-lugovoy-979/

    It appears Litvinenko was working for British Intelligence.

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    • Replies: @yalensis
    Litvinenko was a British spy?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6_1Pw1xm9U

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @peter

    When have I *ever* said that birth rates will not go down sometime in the near future?
     
    Here you dismiss as a Russophobe myth the idea that "since the 1990′s cohort is about 40% smaller, birth rates will tumble again," and claim that "a growing TFR will be able to partially, OR EVEN FULLY [all caps mine], counteract these adverse trends."

    Peter,

    the point forecast in the quote you cite is on “partial”. “Fully” is used as an upside risk. You might argue that the implied error bands are a bit wide, but the way you use citations reminds me of cardinal Richelieu who has reportedly said something like: “Give me freedom of citation, and I will show you that Bible is the most Godless book”

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    It seems that you misunderstood me from the get-go, Peter.

    When have I *ever* said that birth rates will not go down sometime in the near future? I did not. Please provide a link if you think otherwise.

    It is extremely unlikely that Russia's TFR will increase to 2.2-2.3 by the early 2030's. Hence, consequently and logically, it's birth rate will decrease. It is all set out in all the model runs I did, which you would know had you bothered looking over them.

    ANOTHER question entirely is the future gap between the death rate and the birth rate, i.e. the rate of natural population increase. The birth rate will , within five years at the latest, start consistently decreasing at a rate of 0.1-0.2/1000 a year (though it still has the potential for a one-off increase by c.20% overall, i.e. by up to 1.5/1000, should the TFR rise from the 1.50's to about 1.75).

    Considering that today's NR is at -1.4/1000, to close the gap you need only: a rise in the TFR to 1.75, and keeping the gap between DR's and BR's constant. HOWEVER, the death rate may well decrease faster than the birth rate does, perhaps at 0.2-0.3/1000 per year (that's the rate you get if LE is modeled to rise to 75 years by the early 2020's). In other words, if the reduction in the DR in the next decade supersedes the reduction in the BR by 0.1/1000, that adds up to 1.0/1000, and as such you will only then need a very small further increase in the TFR to achieve a zero NR by 2020, i.e. a TFR of just 1.60 will do.

    I think these are reasonable assumptions, and at the least one can say that it is not unrealistic that the NR will turn positive sometime this decade. In any case, it will very likely be hovering somewhere near the margins.

    When have I *ever* said that birth rates will not go down sometime in the near future?

    Here you dismiss as a Russophobe myth the idea that “since the 1990′s cohort is about 40% smaller, birth rates will tumble again,” and claim that “a growing TFR will be able to partially, OR EVEN FULLY [all caps mine], counteract these adverse trends.”

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    • Replies: @Sergey
    Peter,

    the point forecast in the quote you cite is on "partial". "Fully" is used as an upside risk. You might argue that the implied error bands are a bit wide, but the way you use citations reminds me of cardinal Richelieu who has reportedly said something like: "Give me freedom of citation, and I will show you that Bible is the most Godless book"

    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Pretty much what Sergey said.

    I'd also note that I didn't specify the time-frame. So, if the TFR were to steadily increase from today until 2020 until reaching 1.8, say, then it will actually "fully" counteract these adverse trends. Of course, to continue counteracting them after 2020 it would have to rise to above replacement level rates, which is unlikely in the extreme. Hence the "even" qualifier.

    You will see from the actual forecasts here and here that none of the S/O model runs show a non-fall in BR's.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Might as well put my own predictions on the table.

    I’ve said before that I think 150,000-200,000 is a much more plausible number for immigration. (Note that this neatly splits the difference between the liberal “old” method and conservative “new” one.)

    Like you, I expect Russia’s TFR to remain between 1.45 and 1.65 for a while — Russia can still keep TFR stable or gently rising by cohort effects alone, as the average age at first birth is still quite low. Combined with the crash in the numbers of childbearing-age women, this will indeed cause the birthrate to start dropping after 2014 or so. (Watch for alarms both within Russia and outside it as this happens.)

    I also expect the death rate to fall, though more slowly than you’re claiming. A life expectancy of 75 by the early 2020s is probably impossible. Most of that would necessarily come from a rise in male life expectancy, which would have to increase by 8-10 years over the next 10-12. Basically, Russian men would have to stop dying for a few years. That’s just not going to happen. (I note in passing that Russian male life expectancy has *never* gone over 65 — not under the Soviets, not under the czars.) An increase to 75 by 2030 is right at the bleeding edge of possibility.

    Finally, there’s one demographic effect that is going widely unnoticed, and that is the rise of the economically independent post-childbearing woman. For 30 years now, the pattern for Russian women has been “have a kid or two in your early twenties, then stop”. As a result, a 45 year old Russian woman is much more likely to have no children at home than her German or French counterpart. (By way of comparison, my wife and I started having kids well into our 30s; as a result, our youngest won’t reach 18 until we are both over 60.) She also has an excellent chance of becoming a widow within the next decade (since her husband is likely a few years older, and quite a lot of Russian men don’t reach 60). In any event, she’ll probably have two or three decades of active life between the time the last kid leaves the nest and whenever she retires. I don’t know what effect, if any, this may have — but it’s interesting, and probably worth noting.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    @Doug,

    Because even using the super-liberal old methodology, we’ll just barely make that figure for 2011; we didn’t for the last two years, and probably won’t for the next two.

    But note that the Census showed the population to be 142.9 million, that is, almost one million higher than estimated - thanks to the fact that migrants were under-counted. Rosstat estimates the great bulk of this under-counting took place in the early to mid-2000's, when the registration system was actually stricter. But the method from the end of the mid-2000's until last seems to have been basically accurate. (Plus the reason they continue using it, if in an unofficial capacity?)

    I hope Sergey Slobodyan could throw in a comment here. He knows a lot more details about this than I do.

    That said, I think 150,000-200,000 is plausible too. A lot will depend on relative economic performance between Russia and the Caucasus/Stans. Ironically, if the Eurasian Union ends up improving labor mobility, immigration to Russia may even decrease more than it otherwise would, as there would not be so much incentives to stay once you succeed in getting in (that is, if getting in again should you want to is easier).

    I also expect the death rate to fall, though more slowly than you’re claiming. A life expectancy of 75 by the early 2020s is probably impossible. Most of that would necessarily come from a rise in male life expectancy, which would have to increase by 8-10 years over the next 10-12.

    Not necessarily, and at this point I would make a direct comparison with countries like Estonia or Latvia (which had a very similar over-drinking problem but one that has ameliorated somewhat in the past decade) - which started consistently growing earlier than Russia, as well as raising excise taxes on vodka, cutting down on ads, etc.

    As of 2009, Russia's LE was 68.7 (M: 62.7, F: 74.7); it rose to 69.1 in 2010, and on current trends, it will be 70 this year. Broadly speaking, it is where Latvia was in 1996-1998 (LE ranged 68.9-69.6) and to Estonia in 1996-1998 (LE ranged 69.7-70.1). Since then, both countries have seen continues growth in LE, and in 2009 Latvia hit 73.4 and Estonia hit 75.2. Furthermore, both saw respectable drops in DR's during the crisis, so they would have risen still further in 2010.

    In other words, we have, over a decade, a rise of 4-4.5 years in Latvia and of 5.0-5.5 years in Estonia during the past decade. As such, assuming that Russia continues investing in healthcare facilities, continues the anti-alcohol and anti-tobacco campaigns (including raising excise taxes on spirits), etc., then an increase of 5 years by 2020 does seem realistic IMO.

    BTW, the improvements don't necessarily have to be concentrated to such an extent among the men. In the two Baltic countries, women's LE also grew by 3-5 years. The increase for men will thus only have to be 5-7 years, not 8-10.

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  • The change in the methodology for counting “immigrants” is interesting. The old one certainly was too liberal; I know for a fact that it was capturing hundreds of thousands of Armenians and Moldovans who were never going to stay in Russia, and very likely it was including even larger numbers of Central Asians. The new one may be too conservative — but I would guess it’s closer to reality; if someone is really planning to stay in Russia permanently, good chance they’re going to register at some point.

    You’re still shooting for 300,000 migrants per year, sustained over decades? Because even using the super-liberal old methodology, we’ll just barely make that figure for 2011; we didn’t for the last two years, and probably won’t for the next two.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @Sergey
    Doug,

    a proper methodology should have everything to do with counting the number of people sufficiently connected to a country, rather than with trying to gauge where they plan to die or raise children. If they work for 9-11 months in Russia and come back to their home country for several weeks, they are effectively residing in Russia. Some of them do start second families on the side, BTW, thus becoming even more permanently connected to Russia than before.

    I feel that migration numbers have much more to do with frequency of Moscow police's random passport checks than with actual number of migrants. If it gets easy to live in Moscow without propiska, many people would do it. They could still send their kids to school - it's independent of the parents' legal status. Number of non-Russian-speaking kids in Moscow schools is comparable with the new official number of migrants coming into the country, which makes me mightily suspicious that the new methodology is vastly understating the numbers. You are a permanent migrant if you bring a kid into another country's school.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Thank you, Alex. It's easier than it looks. My interest first got piqued in 2008 by the fact that what I was reading in most of the media (very bad and getting worse) was if not contradictory, at least perpendicular to what I could see at Rosstat (pretty bad but getting better).

    Some things they are getting more or less right (e.g. the catastrophic alcohol situation). Some they were getting more wrong than right (e.g. fertility trends). And some things were completely made up idiocies (e.g. Chinese settling Siberia, Muslims massively out-breeding Russians, AIDS crisis becoming as serious as in Sub-Saharan Africa [which is another oft-made mainstream prediction that has yet to happen - seriously, reading that stuff in 2006, you'd think there should now be 100,000's of Russians dropping dead from AIDS yearly by now], etc).

    In the end it was a matter of pinpointing the real situation; then (and most people missed this) looking at macro-trends, government policies, and social changes that could alter the situation in the future; and then - mainly for reasons of credibility, actually - building a model and running No Change, Low, Medium, and High scenarios.

    One small question: do you have any thoughts as to why there was a small dip in the birthrate this year?

    Generally speaking, one can't infer much from the results of 8 months. The current birth rate of 12.3 / 1000 isn't a huge diverge from 12.5 (2010), 12.4 (2009), or 12.1 (2008) and we will certainly have to wait more if we want to establish whether birth rate growth has reversed.

    Now it actually WILL reverse (>99% certainty). Why? Because the 1990-2010 cohort is only about 70% of the size of the 1970-1990 cohort. This means that for the number of births to remain stable c. 2030, the total fertility rate will have to rise by about 40-50%, i.e. from 2009's Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 1.54 to 2.2-2.3 children per woman. This is extremely unlikely, as NO other industrialized country is even near that level.

    Assuming that the TFR remains at 1.50 from now on, there will be a peak in the BR at 12.5 in 2013. On the other hand, should the TFR rise to 1.75 soon, the peak in the BR will occur at 13.6 in 2014. Either way, we can be relatively sure that, barring birth rates will stabilize and then start falling soon - probably within the next five years. Perhaps the BR can eke out another increase in 2012, 2013, or even 2014, but it becomes decreasingly less likely as the lower numbers of women in their childbearing years begin to tell.

    On the other hand, this is a gradual process that will approach its nadir in the early 2030's, before again reversing. As long as the TFR remains steady or grows slowly, the decline too will be fairly steady - occurring at a steady pace of around -0.1 or -0.2/1000 per year. But this will probably be accompanied by fairly vigorous growth in life expectancy; assuming it approaches 75 years by the early 2020's from today's 69 (i.e. still less than Poland today), my model indicates that that should yield an equal decrease in the death rate by about -0.2/1000 per year. So the "gap" between BR's and DR's in this case will remain small and steady until 2025.

    This means that in practice, under the above "reasonable scenario" (neither especially optimistic nor unduly pessimistic), all population growth will be derived from immigration to 2025. Say 300,000 per year. Subtract continuing natural decrease of 100,000-150,000 per year. Over fifteen years, that's population growth of 2 million - 3 million.

    So to answer your question, summary: that blip may be the beginning of a gentle downslope in the BR that will play itself out over the next two decades, or it could be part of an plateau that will in the next few years begin to slope down. There's no way to tell at the moment.

    Dear Anatoly,

    Thank you for answering my question so fully.

    Viz your comment about demographic analysis being “easier than it looks”, getting a model right requires knowledge and skill and is not easy. Few people can do it or do it well. That you have done it so well is a real achievement.

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  • @Leo
    Do you really think that life in Russia is getting better, while 100% and even more is compensated by migrants?
    Besides, if to look at CIA site - you will see, that population in Russia, as per their calculations is 138 M, while Russian statistics says 141?

    Let me rephrase you first question to demonstrate its absurdity: “Do you really think that life in Europe for the last generation or so is getting better, while 100% and even more is compensated by migrants?”

    The CIA uses outdated figures and their own in-house projections of TFR and LE that can quickly diverge from real world developments. Quite simply, keeping up to date with national statistics services is not at the top of their priority list. Read their own FAQ. Or read this.

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    • Replies: @Leonid
    Do you really think that life in Russia is getting better, while 100% of death rate and even more is compensated by migrants?

    Sorry, twas my mistake.
    But is not making demography situation in Russia any better. Or in countries, where these migrants came from. I do not think they came because of love for Russia.

    Ok, CIA losers, I admit it. It looks much like projection. But I do not quite believe official statistics either.

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  • @peter

    Now it actually WILL reverse (>99% certainty)...
     
    Good boy. I'm glad that Doug's (and my) efforts to educate you a bit haven't been entirely wasted.

    Say 300,000 per year.
     
    That looks increasingly unlikely.

    It seems that you misunderstood me from the get-go, Peter.

    When have I *ever* said that birth rates will not go down sometime in the near future? I did not. Please provide a link if you think otherwise.

    It is extremely unlikely that Russia’s TFR will increase to 2.2-2.3 by the early 2030′s. Hence, consequently and logically, it’s birth rate will decrease. It is all set out in all the model runs I did, which you would know had you bothered looking over them.

    ANOTHER question entirely is the future gap between the death rate and the birth rate, i.e. the rate of natural population increase. The birth rate will , within five years at the latest, start consistently decreasing at a rate of 0.1-0.2/1000 a year (though it still has the potential for a one-off increase by c.20% overall, i.e. by up to 1.5/1000, should the TFR rise from the 1.50′s to about 1.75).

    Considering that today’s NR is at -1.4/1000, to close the gap you need only: a rise in the TFR to 1.75, and keeping the gap between DR’s and BR’s constant. HOWEVER, the death rate may well decrease faster than the birth rate does, perhaps at 0.2-0.3/1000 per year (that’s the rate you get if LE is modeled to rise to 75 years by the early 2020′s). In other words, if the reduction in the DR in the next decade supersedes the reduction in the BR by 0.1/1000, that adds up to 1.0/1000, and as such you will only then need a very small further increase in the TFR to achieve a zero NR by 2020, i.e. a TFR of just 1.60 will do.

    I think these are reasonable assumptions, and at the least one can say that it is not unrealistic that the NR will turn positive sometime this decade. In any case, it will very likely be hovering somewhere near the margins.

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    • Replies: @peter

    When have I *ever* said that birth rates will not go down sometime in the near future?
     
    Here you dismiss as a Russophobe myth the idea that "since the 1990′s cohort is about 40% smaller, birth rates will tumble again," and claim that "a growing TFR will be able to partially, OR EVEN FULLY [all caps mine], counteract these adverse trends."
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  • Anatoly,

    Good post.

    sinotibetan

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Thank you, Alex. It's easier than it looks. My interest first got piqued in 2008 by the fact that what I was reading in most of the media (very bad and getting worse) was if not contradictory, at least perpendicular to what I could see at Rosstat (pretty bad but getting better).

    Some things they are getting more or less right (e.g. the catastrophic alcohol situation). Some they were getting more wrong than right (e.g. fertility trends). And some things were completely made up idiocies (e.g. Chinese settling Siberia, Muslims massively out-breeding Russians, AIDS crisis becoming as serious as in Sub-Saharan Africa [which is another oft-made mainstream prediction that has yet to happen - seriously, reading that stuff in 2006, you'd think there should now be 100,000's of Russians dropping dead from AIDS yearly by now], etc).

    In the end it was a matter of pinpointing the real situation; then (and most people missed this) looking at macro-trends, government policies, and social changes that could alter the situation in the future; and then - mainly for reasons of credibility, actually - building a model and running No Change, Low, Medium, and High scenarios.

    One small question: do you have any thoughts as to why there was a small dip in the birthrate this year?

    Generally speaking, one can't infer much from the results of 8 months. The current birth rate of 12.3 / 1000 isn't a huge diverge from 12.5 (2010), 12.4 (2009), or 12.1 (2008) and we will certainly have to wait more if we want to establish whether birth rate growth has reversed.

    Now it actually WILL reverse (>99% certainty). Why? Because the 1990-2010 cohort is only about 70% of the size of the 1970-1990 cohort. This means that for the number of births to remain stable c. 2030, the total fertility rate will have to rise by about 40-50%, i.e. from 2009's Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 1.54 to 2.2-2.3 children per woman. This is extremely unlikely, as NO other industrialized country is even near that level.

    Assuming that the TFR remains at 1.50 from now on, there will be a peak in the BR at 12.5 in 2013. On the other hand, should the TFR rise to 1.75 soon, the peak in the BR will occur at 13.6 in 2014. Either way, we can be relatively sure that, barring birth rates will stabilize and then start falling soon - probably within the next five years. Perhaps the BR can eke out another increase in 2012, 2013, or even 2014, but it becomes decreasingly less likely as the lower numbers of women in their childbearing years begin to tell.

    On the other hand, this is a gradual process that will approach its nadir in the early 2030's, before again reversing. As long as the TFR remains steady or grows slowly, the decline too will be fairly steady - occurring at a steady pace of around -0.1 or -0.2/1000 per year. But this will probably be accompanied by fairly vigorous growth in life expectancy; assuming it approaches 75 years by the early 2020's from today's 69 (i.e. still less than Poland today), my model indicates that that should yield an equal decrease in the death rate by about -0.2/1000 per year. So the "gap" between BR's and DR's in this case will remain small and steady until 2025.

    This means that in practice, under the above "reasonable scenario" (neither especially optimistic nor unduly pessimistic), all population growth will be derived from immigration to 2025. Say 300,000 per year. Subtract continuing natural decrease of 100,000-150,000 per year. Over fifteen years, that's population growth of 2 million - 3 million.

    So to answer your question, summary: that blip may be the beginning of a gentle downslope in the BR that will play itself out over the next two decades, or it could be part of an plateau that will in the next few years begin to slope down. There's no way to tell at the moment.

    Now it actually WILL reverse (>99% certainty)…

    Good boy. I’m glad that Doug’s (and my) efforts to educate you a bit haven’t been entirely wasted.

    Say 300,000 per year.

    That looks increasingly unlikely.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    It seems that you misunderstood me from the get-go, Peter.

    When have I *ever* said that birth rates will not go down sometime in the near future? I did not. Please provide a link if you think otherwise.

    It is extremely unlikely that Russia's TFR will increase to 2.2-2.3 by the early 2030's. Hence, consequently and logically, it's birth rate will decrease. It is all set out in all the model runs I did, which you would know had you bothered looking over them.

    ANOTHER question entirely is the future gap between the death rate and the birth rate, i.e. the rate of natural population increase. The birth rate will , within five years at the latest, start consistently decreasing at a rate of 0.1-0.2/1000 a year (though it still has the potential for a one-off increase by c.20% overall, i.e. by up to 1.5/1000, should the TFR rise from the 1.50's to about 1.75).

    Considering that today's NR is at -1.4/1000, to close the gap you need only: a rise in the TFR to 1.75, and keeping the gap between DR's and BR's constant. HOWEVER, the death rate may well decrease faster than the birth rate does, perhaps at 0.2-0.3/1000 per year (that's the rate you get if LE is modeled to rise to 75 years by the early 2020's). In other words, if the reduction in the DR in the next decade supersedes the reduction in the BR by 0.1/1000, that adds up to 1.0/1000, and as such you will only then need a very small further increase in the TFR to achieve a zero NR by 2020, i.e. a TFR of just 1.60 will do.

    I think these are reasonable assumptions, and at the least one can say that it is not unrealistic that the NR will turn positive sometime this decade. In any case, it will very likely be hovering somewhere near the margins.

    , @John
    Peter, weren't you predicting Russia's inevitable economic collapse a couple years back while touting America and Europe's economic superiority in contrast? I'm sure I remember you parroting the Western media's take on Russia's doomsday demographic situation as well...

    I stopped following your blog because I realized you were just another LaRussophobe follower/wannabe and that there was no talking any sense into you as far as facts and logic were concerned. I don't know why Aantoly still wastes time responding to your blatant trolling to be honest.

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  • Good stuff. Thanks

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  • Do you really think that life in Russia is getting better, while 100% and even more is compensated by migrants?
    Besides, if to look at CIA site – you will see, that population in Russia, as per their calculations is 138 M, while Russian statistics says 141?

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Let me rephrase you first question to demonstrate its absurdity: "Do you really think that life in Europe for the last generation or so is getting better, while 100% and even more is compensated by migrants?"

    The CIA uses outdated figures and their own in-house projections of TFR and LE that can quickly diverge from real world developments. Quite simply, keeping up to date with national statistics services is not at the top of their priority list. Read their own FAQ. Or read this.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Anatoly,

    On this whole question of demographics you have been consistently brilliant and consistently right. This is all the more impressive given that I for one find the whole subject extremely difficult. I cannot be the only person to find it difficult given that all the big demographic agencies have been proved to be wrong. It must be immensely satisfying to be proved right on such a subject when the "big guns" have been proved wrong.

    Though of no importance I may as well tell you that it was one of your posts on demographic questions that first drew me to your blog.

    One small question: do you have any thoughts as to why there was a small dip in the birthrate this year? Could this be just a quirk or might it be connected to the undercounting of migrants on the assumption that as migrants tend to be younger they are more likely to have children?

    Thank you, Alex. It’s easier than it looks. My interest first got piqued in 2008 by the fact that what I was reading in most of the media (very bad and getting worse) was if not contradictory, at least perpendicular to what I could see at Rosstat (pretty bad but getting better).

    Some things they are getting more or less right (e.g. the catastrophic alcohol situation). Some they were getting more wrong than right (e.g. fertility trends). And some things were completely made up idiocies (e.g. Chinese settling Siberia, Muslims massively out-breeding Russians, AIDS crisis becoming as serious as in Sub-Saharan Africa [which is another oft-made mainstream prediction that has yet to happen - seriously, reading that stuff in 2006, you'd think there should now be 100,000's of Russians dropping dead from AIDS yearly by now], etc).

    In the end it was a matter of pinpointing the real situation; then (and most people missed this) looking at macro-trends, government policies, and social changes that could alter the situation in the future; and then – mainly for reasons of credibility, actually – building a model and running No Change, Low, Medium, and High scenarios.

    One small question: do you have any thoughts as to why there was a small dip in the birthrate this year?

    Generally speaking, one can’t infer much from the results of 8 months. The current birth rate of 12.3 / 1000 isn’t a huge diverge from 12.5 (2010), 12.4 (2009), or 12.1 (2008) and we will certainly have to wait more if we want to establish whether birth rate growth has reversed.

    Now it actually WILL reverse (>99% certainty). Why? Because the 1990-2010 cohort is only about 70% of the size of the 1970-1990 cohort. This means that for the number of births to remain stable c. 2030, the total fertility rate will have to rise by about 40-50%, i.e. from 2009′s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 1.54 to 2.2-2.3 children per woman. This is extremely unlikely, as NO other industrialized country is even near that level.

    Assuming that the TFR remains at 1.50 from now on, there will be a peak in the BR at 12.5 in 2013. On the other hand, should the TFR rise to 1.75 soon, the peak in the BR will occur at 13.6 in 2014. Either way, we can be relatively sure that, barring birth rates will stabilize and then start falling soon – probably within the next five years. Perhaps the BR can eke out another increase in 2012, 2013, or even 2014, but it becomes decreasingly less likely as the lower numbers of women in their childbearing years begin to tell.

    On the other hand, this is a gradual process that will approach its nadir in the early 2030′s, before again reversing. As long as the TFR remains steady or grows slowly, the decline too will be fairly steady – occurring at a steady pace of around -0.1 or -0.2/1000 per year. But this will probably be accompanied by fairly vigorous growth in life expectancy; assuming it approaches 75 years by the early 2020′s from today’s 69 (i.e. still less than Poland today), my model indicates that that should yield an equal decrease in the death rate by about -0.2/1000 per year. So the “gap” between BR’s and DR’s in this case will remain small and steady until 2025.

    This means that in practice, under the above “reasonable scenario” (neither especially optimistic nor unduly pessimistic), all population growth will be derived from immigration to 2025. Say 300,000 per year. Subtract continuing natural decrease of 100,000-150,000 per year. Over fifteen years, that’s population growth of 2 million – 3 million.

    So to answer your question, summary: that blip may be the beginning of a gentle downslope in the BR that will play itself out over the next two decades, or it could be part of an plateau that will in the next few years begin to slope down. There’s no way to tell at the moment.

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    • Replies: @peter

    Now it actually WILL reverse (>99% certainty)...
     
    Good boy. I'm glad that Doug's (and my) efforts to educate you a bit haven't been entirely wasted.

    Say 300,000 per year.
     
    That looks increasingly unlikely.
    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Anatoly,

    Thank you for answering my question so fully.

    Viz your comment about demographic analysis being "easier than it looks", getting a model right requires knowledge and skill and is not easy. Few people can do it or do it well. That you have done it so well is a real achievement.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @kirill
    It is looking more and more like Russia is better off today than it was in 1989 before the collapse. But of course this will never get mentioned in the western media, which is still fighting the cold war.

    Yes. Though in all fairness, the demographic situation in 1989 (on the mortality side, that is) was nothing to write home about.

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  • It is looking more and more like Russia is better off today than it was in 1989 before the collapse. But of course this will never get mentioned in the western media, which is still fighting the cold war.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Yes. Though in all fairness, the demographic situation in 1989 (on the mortality side, that is) was nothing to write home about.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Dear Anatoly,

    On this whole question of demographics you have been consistently brilliant and consistently right. This is all the more impressive given that I for one find the whole subject extremely difficult. I cannot be the only person to find it difficult given that all the big demographic agencies have been proved to be wrong. It must be immensely satisfying to be proved right on such a subject when the “big guns” have been proved wrong.

    Though of no importance I may as well tell you that it was one of your posts on demographic questions that first drew me to your blog.

    One small question: do you have any thoughts as to why there was a small dip in the birthrate this year? Could this be just a quirk or might it be connected to the undercounting of migrants on the assumption that as migrants tend to be younger they are more likely to have children?

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Thank you, Alex. It's easier than it looks. My interest first got piqued in 2008 by the fact that what I was reading in most of the media (very bad and getting worse) was if not contradictory, at least perpendicular to what I could see at Rosstat (pretty bad but getting better).

    Some things they are getting more or less right (e.g. the catastrophic alcohol situation). Some they were getting more wrong than right (e.g. fertility trends). And some things were completely made up idiocies (e.g. Chinese settling Siberia, Muslims massively out-breeding Russians, AIDS crisis becoming as serious as in Sub-Saharan Africa [which is another oft-made mainstream prediction that has yet to happen - seriously, reading that stuff in 2006, you'd think there should now be 100,000's of Russians dropping dead from AIDS yearly by now], etc).

    In the end it was a matter of pinpointing the real situation; then (and most people missed this) looking at macro-trends, government policies, and social changes that could alter the situation in the future; and then - mainly for reasons of credibility, actually - building a model and running No Change, Low, Medium, and High scenarios.

    One small question: do you have any thoughts as to why there was a small dip in the birthrate this year?

    Generally speaking, one can't infer much from the results of 8 months. The current birth rate of 12.3 / 1000 isn't a huge diverge from 12.5 (2010), 12.4 (2009), or 12.1 (2008) and we will certainly have to wait more if we want to establish whether birth rate growth has reversed.

    Now it actually WILL reverse (>99% certainty). Why? Because the 1990-2010 cohort is only about 70% of the size of the 1970-1990 cohort. This means that for the number of births to remain stable c. 2030, the total fertility rate will have to rise by about 40-50%, i.e. from 2009's Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 1.54 to 2.2-2.3 children per woman. This is extremely unlikely, as NO other industrialized country is even near that level.

    Assuming that the TFR remains at 1.50 from now on, there will be a peak in the BR at 12.5 in 2013. On the other hand, should the TFR rise to 1.75 soon, the peak in the BR will occur at 13.6 in 2014. Either way, we can be relatively sure that, barring birth rates will stabilize and then start falling soon - probably within the next five years. Perhaps the BR can eke out another increase in 2012, 2013, or even 2014, but it becomes decreasingly less likely as the lower numbers of women in their childbearing years begin to tell.

    On the other hand, this is a gradual process that will approach its nadir in the early 2030's, before again reversing. As long as the TFR remains steady or grows slowly, the decline too will be fairly steady - occurring at a steady pace of around -0.1 or -0.2/1000 per year. But this will probably be accompanied by fairly vigorous growth in life expectancy; assuming it approaches 75 years by the early 2020's from today's 69 (i.e. still less than Poland today), my model indicates that that should yield an equal decrease in the death rate by about -0.2/1000 per year. So the "gap" between BR's and DR's in this case will remain small and steady until 2025.

    This means that in practice, under the above "reasonable scenario" (neither especially optimistic nor unduly pessimistic), all population growth will be derived from immigration to 2025. Say 300,000 per year. Subtract continuing natural decrease of 100,000-150,000 per year. Over fifteen years, that's population growth of 2 million - 3 million.

    So to answer your question, summary: that blip may be the beginning of a gentle downslope in the BR that will play itself out over the next two decades, or it could be part of an plateau that will in the next few years begin to slope down. There's no way to tell at the moment.

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  • Excellent work. Thank you.

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  • even surpass 150 million by 2020…In my view could be even earlier given the continuing immigration trends and the natural birth increases….However till such time as natural birth increase sustain for continued periods, immigration into Russia should be simplified, even encouraged, quality being the underlying principle!

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  • As we're now approaching mid-2011, I suppose its time to give my traditional update on Russia's demography. So here's the lay-down: 1. In February, I predicted a population decline of c. 50,000 in 2010 (after a 23,000 rise in 2009). This was due to the excess deaths of the Great Russian Heatwave of 2010, and...
  • @Doug M.
    1) A correlation between population and wages exists, but it's mushy. There are plenty of countries where wages have risen sharply even while the number of working adults was growing; there are also countries where wages have stagnated despite a shortage of labor. (See, for example, the country I'm writing this from, Moldova.)

    2) Hungary and Croatia: My points hold up just fine, thanks. I said they were major exporters, not net exporters. They're not net because both of them are also importing large numbers of people from further east.

    In the case of Hungary, it's a steady trickle of ethnic Hungarians immigrating from Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia. Two of those countries are much poorer than Hungary, and the third is under an asshole nationalist regime that's actively trying to make life unpleasant for ethnic Hungarians.

    The case of Croatia is even weirder: Croatia is counting ethnic Serb refugees, returning to Croatia, as "immigrants". These are Serbs who were ethnically cleansed out of Croatia after Operation Storm in 1995. They're still slowly trickling back, though most of them will never return. (Croatia doesn't really want them back, and so is placing a range of different economic, social and administrative obstacles in their path.) In addition, Croatia has picked up a couple of hundred ethnic Croats from Herzegovina (in Bosnia) in the 16 years since Dayton.

    So, while /net/ emigration from those countries is low or negative, they are both exporting large numbers of people into the EU.

    3) Poland has seen emigration drop sharply in the last couple of years as labor markets have crashed across the EU, drying up demand for immigrant labor. That's why I said "300,000 over the last 10 years". I'm looking at medium- and long-term trends. Do you think the last 2-3 years are good indicators for the next decade? Well, neither do I. I wouldn't be surprised if the period 2011 to 2020 saw less Polish emigration than the previous decade -- but I'd be very surprised if it was much less. Anything less than 200,000 over the decade would be pretty weird, and IMO unlikely barring economic near-catastrophe in western and central Europe.

    4) Taxes: worldwide, there is indeed a correlation between gross tax burden and emigration! But it's a *negative* correlation. At the macro level, emigration tends to flow from countries with low taxes, to countries with high taxes.

    Why? Well, here are some countries whose total tax burden is over 35% of GDP: Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway (41% -- they're putting most of the oil revenue into the sovereign fund), Finland, Sweden, and Denmark (with a whopping 48%). (OECD numbers -- do not use the Heritage Foundation figures, they're bogus.) Almost all of these countries are net importers of people; none are major sources of emigration.

    Meanwhile, Romania's total tax burden is around 29%. Mexico's is about 19%. The Philippines, about 17%. Tanzania, about 12%.

    Very broadly speaking, rich countries tax themselves at higher rates than poor countries. There are of course exceptions, but the correlation is pretty strong -- graph GDP against tax/GDP, and you get a scatterplot with a nice steady rise from left to right. So, since immigration tends to flow from poor to rich, immigration tends to move from low tax to high tax: strange but true.

    This is not to say that taxes can't affect immigration -- but the direct effect seems to be pretty marginal. The indirect effects (i.e., on public services) may be significant, but at that level it gets very hard to sort out taxes from other issues (debt, efficiency of administration, etc. etc.).

    5) Brazil: the existence of large numbers of Russian-Brazilians makes emigration much easier; there's already a community of people who speak your language, share your religion, etc. If you move to Sao Paulo, there are Russian restaurants and clubs, Russian schools and kindergartens, a Russian music scene, and not one but two Russian Orthodox cathedrals -- one for each side of the schism.

    As to why, I'm guessing that "weather", "food", "weather", "lifestyle", "weather", "women who still look good at 35 or even 40", "better booze", and "weather" may have all been factors.

    Doug M.

    Immigrants will often be the poor in the receiver country. The poor often don’t pay taxes or only marginal. And high taxes lead to a black economy with has a big cost advantage to the taxed economy. Something which is good for illegal aliens

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Re-Brazil. That's good, and in line with Russia's attempts to conclude reciprocal visa-free travel agreements with other countries. But I can only see it being used for eased tourism or business trips. Why would a Russian want to emigrate from one middle-income country to another on the other side of the world whose language he (most likely) doesn't speak??

    Re-taxes. My main point about taxes was that Russians' effective incomes - especially for the higher-earning professionals who would otherwise be most likely to seek employment opportunities abroad - are higher than the figures on paper because of the 13% flat tax (whereas in most West European countries their tax rates would effectively be c.40%). But I included it as an important factor because of its application to fiscal issues, whose importance far exceeds other factors like climate or cuisine. Most European - and indeed developed countries - are facing a choice between high taxes and insolvency (majorly cutting spending is politically suicidal and leads to disastrous social outcomes where it is implemented, e.g. Latvia). Thanks to no particular effort of its own, Russia's mineral wealth allows it to escape this predicament (comparable countries include Norway, and to a lesser extent Canada and Australia). I don't see these issues being resolved in the foreseeable future (do you?); to the contrary the trends indicate they are going to get worse before they get better. Meanwhile, with (probable) peak oil and continued rise in Chinese demand, mineral prices can only go in one direction. Not only will Western Europe be decreasingly attractive for Russian emigration, but the current flows may even reverse - especially if Russia succeeds in improving its institutions, social services and amenities, etc. (This reversal, BTW, seems to have already happens between Russia-Israel).

    Re-Poland. In addition to Sergey's point about high Polish unemployment during the mid-2000's, I'd also like to make a few other observations. First, with the exception of the Baltics, the other countries you mentioned - Hungary, Croatia (and Slovakia, Czech Republic) - aren't "major" people exporters, in fact they all have a positive migration balance. Second, in recent years - and in line with its excellent post-crisis economic performance relative to the rest of Europe - Polish emigration is also ebbing away; in the UK, the numbers of employed Polish-born people in employment has been flat since early 2008. So your points don't even hold up that well to the EEC countries let alone Russia.

    Furthermore, you're a good demographer, so this will be a point I think you'd appreciate. As you know many EEC and East European countries had mini-baby booms in the 1980's followed by crashes in the following decade. (I don't know the research, but I'd hazard a guess that Poland's high unemployment in the 2000's was partly linked to this). Obviously, this demographic history is true for Russia too. One of its consequences is that the numbers of new people entering its workforce is beginning to plummet. This will exert upwards pressure on wages and employment, further diminishing the relative benefits of emigration.

    1) A correlation between population and wages exists, but it’s mushy. There are plenty of countries where wages have risen sharply even while the number of working adults was growing; there are also countries where wages have stagnated despite a shortage of labor. (See, for example, the country I’m writing this from, Moldova.)

    2) Hungary and Croatia: My points hold up just fine, thanks. I said they were major exporters, not net exporters. They’re not net because both of them are also importing large numbers of people from further east.

    In the case of Hungary, it’s a steady trickle of ethnic Hungarians immigrating from Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia. Two of those countries are much poorer than Hungary, and the third is under an asshole nationalist regime that’s actively trying to make life unpleasant for ethnic Hungarians.

    The case of Croatia is even weirder: Croatia is counting ethnic Serb refugees, returning to Croatia, as “immigrants”. These are Serbs who were ethnically cleansed out of Croatia after Operation Storm in 1995. They’re still slowly trickling back, though most of them will never return. (Croatia doesn’t really want them back, and so is placing a range of different economic, social and administrative obstacles in their path.) In addition, Croatia has picked up a couple of hundred ethnic Croats from Herzegovina (in Bosnia) in the 16 years since Dayton.

    So, while /net/ emigration from those countries is low or negative, they are both exporting large numbers of people into the EU.

    3) Poland has seen emigration drop sharply in the last couple of years as labor markets have crashed across the EU, drying up demand for immigrant labor. That’s why I said “300,000 over the last 10 years”. I’m looking at medium- and long-term trends. Do you think the last 2-3 years are good indicators for the next decade? Well, neither do I. I wouldn’t be surprised if the period 2011 to 2020 saw less Polish emigration than the previous decade — but I’d be very surprised if it was much less. Anything less than 200,000 over the decade would be pretty weird, and IMO unlikely barring economic near-catastrophe in western and central Europe.

    4) Taxes: worldwide, there is indeed a correlation between gross tax burden and emigration! But it’s a *negative* correlation. At the macro level, emigration tends to flow from countries with low taxes, to countries with high taxes.

    Why? Well, here are some countries whose total tax burden is over 35% of GDP: Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway (41% — they’re putting most of the oil revenue into the sovereign fund), Finland, Sweden, and Denmark (with a whopping 48%). (OECD numbers — do not use the Heritage Foundation figures, they’re bogus.) Almost all of these countries are net importers of people; none are major sources of emigration.

    Meanwhile, Romania’s total tax burden is around 29%. Mexico’s is about 19%. The Philippines, about 17%. Tanzania, about 12%.

    Very broadly speaking, rich countries tax themselves at higher rates than poor countries. There are of course exceptions, but the correlation is pretty strong — graph GDP against tax/GDP, and you get a scatterplot with a nice steady rise from left to right. So, since immigration tends to flow from poor to rich, immigration tends to move from low tax to high tax: strange but true.

    This is not to say that taxes can’t affect immigration — but the direct effect seems to be pretty marginal. The indirect effects (i.e., on public services) may be significant, but at that level it gets very hard to sort out taxes from other issues (debt, efficiency of administration, etc. etc.).

    5) Brazil: the existence of large numbers of Russian-Brazilians makes emigration much easier; there’s already a community of people who speak your language, share your religion, etc. If you move to Sao Paulo, there are Russian restaurants and clubs, Russian schools and kindergartens, a Russian music scene, and not one but two Russian Orthodox cathedrals — one for each side of the schism.

    As to why, I’m guessing that “weather”, “food”, “weather”, “lifestyle”, “weather”, “women who still look good at 35 or even 40″, “better booze”, and “weather” may have all been factors.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @charly
    Immigrants will often be the poor in the receiver country. The poor often don't pay taxes or only marginal. And high taxes lead to a black economy with has a big cost advantage to the taxed economy. Something which is good for illegal aliens
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Doug M.
    Anatoly, there are a couple of hundred thousand Brazilians of Russian descent -- about half from White Russian days, about half from emigration since 1990. Brazil and Russia signed a visa-free travel agreement in 2008.

    Attractiveness of the countries in question: no offense, but picking out a single factor ("Russia has lower taxes!") is kind of silly. Sure, Russia has lower taxes than, say, France. Absolutely. On the other hand, France has a nicer climate, better food, better public services, less corruption, more amenities, cleaner air and water, better health care, better roads, lower crime rates, and women who keep their looks past thirty. Which is a better place to live?

    Income: dude, go back and look at that list again. Russia is right in the middle of a group of countries, all around the same income level, that are major exporters of people. Poland, Hungary, Croatia, the Baltic States... all those countries have roughly the same income as Russia, and they're all major net emigrators. Poland -- which has almost exactly the same PPP-adjusted income as Russia -- has lost about 300,000 people to emigration since 2001, mostly to the EU.

    I'm not saying income doesn't matter. Of course it does! But it's just one factor out of many.


    Doug M.

    Re-Brazil. That’s good, and in line with Russia’s attempts to conclude reciprocal visa-free travel agreements with other countries. But I can only see it being used for eased tourism or business trips. Why would a Russian want to emigrate from one middle-income country to another on the other side of the world whose language he (most likely) doesn’t speak??

    Re-taxes. My main point about taxes was that Russians’ effective incomes – especially for the higher-earning professionals who would otherwise be most likely to seek employment opportunities abroad – are higher than the figures on paper because of the 13% flat tax (whereas in most West European countries their tax rates would effectively be c.40%). But I included it as an important factor because of its application to fiscal issues, whose importance far exceeds other factors like climate or cuisine. Most European – and indeed developed countries – are facing a choice between high taxes and insolvency (majorly cutting spending is politically suicidal and leads to disastrous social outcomes where it is implemented, e.g. Latvia). Thanks to no particular effort of its own, Russia’s mineral wealth allows it to escape this predicament (comparable countries include Norway, and to a lesser extent Canada and Australia). I don’t see these issues being resolved in the foreseeable future (do you?); to the contrary the trends indicate they are going to get worse before they get better. Meanwhile, with (probable) peak oil and continued rise in Chinese demand, mineral prices can only go in one direction. Not only will Western Europe be decreasingly attractive for Russian emigration, but the current flows may even reverse – especially if Russia succeeds in improving its institutions, social services and amenities, etc. (This reversal, BTW, seems to have already happens between Russia-Israel).

    Re-Poland. In addition to Sergey’s point about high Polish unemployment during the mid-2000′s, I’d also like to make a few other observations. First, with the exception of the Baltics, the other countries you mentioned – Hungary, Croatia (and Slovakia, Czech Republic) – aren’t “major” people exporters, in fact they all have a positive migration balance. Second, in recent years – and in line with its excellent post-crisis economic performance relative to the rest of Europe – Polish emigration is also ebbing away; in the UK, the numbers of employed Polish-born people in employment has been flat since early 2008. So your points don’t even hold up that well to the EEC countries let alone Russia.

    Furthermore, you’re a good demographer, so this will be a point I think you’d appreciate. As you know many EEC and East European countries had mini-baby booms in the 1980′s followed by crashes in the following decade. (I don’t know the research, but I’d hazard a guess that Poland’s high unemployment in the 2000′s was partly linked to this). Obviously, this demographic history is true for Russia too. One of its consequences is that the numbers of new people entering its workforce is beginning to plummet. This will exert upwards pressure on wages and employment, further diminishing the relative benefits of emigration.

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    • Replies: @Doug M.
    1) A correlation between population and wages exists, but it's mushy. There are plenty of countries where wages have risen sharply even while the number of working adults was growing; there are also countries where wages have stagnated despite a shortage of labor. (See, for example, the country I'm writing this from, Moldova.)

    2) Hungary and Croatia: My points hold up just fine, thanks. I said they were major exporters, not net exporters. They're not net because both of them are also importing large numbers of people from further east.

    In the case of Hungary, it's a steady trickle of ethnic Hungarians immigrating from Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia. Two of those countries are much poorer than Hungary, and the third is under an asshole nationalist regime that's actively trying to make life unpleasant for ethnic Hungarians.

    The case of Croatia is even weirder: Croatia is counting ethnic Serb refugees, returning to Croatia, as "immigrants". These are Serbs who were ethnically cleansed out of Croatia after Operation Storm in 1995. They're still slowly trickling back, though most of them will never return. (Croatia doesn't really want them back, and so is placing a range of different economic, social and administrative obstacles in their path.) In addition, Croatia has picked up a couple of hundred ethnic Croats from Herzegovina (in Bosnia) in the 16 years since Dayton.

    So, while /net/ emigration from those countries is low or negative, they are both exporting large numbers of people into the EU.

    3) Poland has seen emigration drop sharply in the last couple of years as labor markets have crashed across the EU, drying up demand for immigrant labor. That's why I said "300,000 over the last 10 years". I'm looking at medium- and long-term trends. Do you think the last 2-3 years are good indicators for the next decade? Well, neither do I. I wouldn't be surprised if the period 2011 to 2020 saw less Polish emigration than the previous decade -- but I'd be very surprised if it was much less. Anything less than 200,000 over the decade would be pretty weird, and IMO unlikely barring economic near-catastrophe in western and central Europe.

    4) Taxes: worldwide, there is indeed a correlation between gross tax burden and emigration! But it's a *negative* correlation. At the macro level, emigration tends to flow from countries with low taxes, to countries with high taxes.

    Why? Well, here are some countries whose total tax burden is over 35% of GDP: Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway (41% -- they're putting most of the oil revenue into the sovereign fund), Finland, Sweden, and Denmark (with a whopping 48%). (OECD numbers -- do not use the Heritage Foundation figures, they're bogus.) Almost all of these countries are net importers of people; none are major sources of emigration.

    Meanwhile, Romania's total tax burden is around 29%. Mexico's is about 19%. The Philippines, about 17%. Tanzania, about 12%.

    Very broadly speaking, rich countries tax themselves at higher rates than poor countries. There are of course exceptions, but the correlation is pretty strong -- graph GDP against tax/GDP, and you get a scatterplot with a nice steady rise from left to right. So, since immigration tends to flow from poor to rich, immigration tends to move from low tax to high tax: strange but true.

    This is not to say that taxes can't affect immigration -- but the direct effect seems to be pretty marginal. The indirect effects (i.e., on public services) may be significant, but at that level it gets very hard to sort out taxes from other issues (debt, efficiency of administration, etc. etc.).

    5) Brazil: the existence of large numbers of Russian-Brazilians makes emigration much easier; there's already a community of people who speak your language, share your religion, etc. If you move to Sao Paulo, there are Russian restaurants and clubs, Russian schools and kindergartens, a Russian music scene, and not one but two Russian Orthodox cathedrals -- one for each side of the schism.

    As to why, I'm guessing that "weather", "food", "weather", "lifestyle", "weather", "women who still look good at 35 or even 40", "better booze", and "weather" may have all been factors.

    Doug M.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Doug M.
    Sergey, just a couple of historical notes. Scots-Irish aren't "Irish" in the sense you're probably thinking. They're the descendants of Scottish colonizers who moved into Ireland in the 17th and 18th centuries, after the violent removal -- basically, genocide and ethnic cleansing -- of most of the previous, Irish inhabitants. Calling them Irish is sort of like calling a white South African an "African" or an Israeli a "Middle Easterner" -- it's technically true, but can lead to confusion.

    Northern Ireland, aka Ulster, was historically a colony of Britain in Ireland. It was very different from the rest of Ireland socially, religiously, and economically; although the Scots and Irish are ethnic cousins, in religion and culture they're very different. During the period in question, Ulster was /not/ a particularly poor part of Great Britain; the Scots-Irish generally had much higher incomes than the Irish.

    (One consequence of this was that, over time, Irish drifted back into the north -- there was an income differential, and they could get better jobs up there. Northern Ireland in 1800 was almost entirely Scots-Irish and Protestan. By the early 1900s, after a century of peace and political union, between a quarter and a third of the population was irish and Catholic. That would be the engine of the subsequent Troubles.)

    Yorkshire: coal and textile didn't become significant until the late 1700s, near the end of the period I'm talking about. In, say, 1750? Yorkshire and Ulster had almost exactly the same income levels. But Ulster sent ship after shipload of emigrants to the New World, while Yorkshiremen mostly stayed home.

    Also, coal doesn't deter emigration. Quite the opposite! Several of Europe's coal centers -- most notably Wales and Silesia -- were also major exporters of people. Historically, miners have been a lot more mobile than peasants.


    Doug M.

    Doug,

    OK, I consent that you might be much better informed than me on 17-18th century migration from what’s now UK. I definitely don’t have time to become a specialist in this area.

    Coming back to our days – in your reply to Anatoly you mention Poland, Baltics, Croatia, and Hungary – all the countries that are either in the EU, or are going to enter soon. Croatians are also familiar with pendulum migration to the Western Europe – which is so close – from Tito times. My cost story in full flower. Between costs and expected benefits of migration, you could explain a variation in who goes where. Add to that presence of co-religionist and ethnic communities, and you get a very good picture.

    (Don’t forget to add unemployment rates to the Polish story. It’s not just the income differential, you also need people without good positions in their home countries. Eurostat gives just a few years with Polish unemployment below 10% )

    I still think your Brazil example isn’t very revealing – 100,000 since 1990, for a country that’s almost 200 million now? And with some previous communities, starting in late 19th century? I’d say it’s not extraordinary at all.

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  • Brazil’s most famous Russian at the moment is probably Danielle Winits. Outside Brazil, she’s relatively unknown beyond a few Playboy pictorials, but inside Brazil she’s a major, major star. Drop her name into Google Images and you’ll get the idea (NSFW).

    Doug M.

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  • @Sergey
    Doug,

    interesting points all, thanks. I'm not sure your Irish example shows exactly what you are saying - Irish were historically very poor. I'm not that deep into Yorkshire history, but a city which in 20th century had important coal mining and steel production probably in 18th was better off than rural Ireland or Scotland. That's not to deny existence of national differences in attitude towards movement abroad.

    Armenia and Moldova don't quite work out, IMHO. As you have noted, migration is lumpy. Armenia has a huge diaspora relative to home population, and those people do consider themselves Armenians for several generations afterwards. Why this is so, it's not the place to discuss. The pull effect is very strong. For Moldovans, the road through Romania is an easy starting channel, including by first getting Romanian passport. In contrast, significant number of Russian ethnicities doesn't have a convenient passport-changing country close by (and for those who do - Germans and Jews in particular, the emigration rates have been very high), and ability of Russian speakers to maintain closely knit communities abroad is very limited (again, Russians of Jewish origin are an exception). The third immigration wave was dominated by Jewish emigration, again, no communities formed to attract others.

    Given huge regional differences in Russia, one would expect large migration flows. In fact, that's what has happened - population in Far East, and partially Siberia, dropped, while that of the Central and Southern district has increased since 1990. If one could go to Moscow region, Stavropol, or Novosibirsk (all are well known magnets of within Russia migration), why would one move abroad?

    Brooklyn emigration was easy to predict - NY is a very Jewish city. London is a different story - a playground for rich and powerful, with good laws which make extradition almost impossible. Both are English-speaking cities. I have no idea how many Russians are in Brasil, beyond those in symphonic orchestra in Brasilia and random professors at universities who could be found almost anywhere in the world.

    So, in summary. Yes, there are many determinants of migration, and cultural and historical reasons could be as important as economic ones. However, the post-1990 (and especially post-2000) migration was almost exclusively for economic reasons, and one should expect economic determinants to prevail. In the medium run, I don't see these economic determinants turning to increased out-migration from Russia.

    Sergey, just a couple of historical notes. Scots-Irish aren’t “Irish” in the sense you’re probably thinking. They’re the descendants of Scottish colonizers who moved into Ireland in the 17th and 18th centuries, after the violent removal — basically, genocide and ethnic cleansing — of most of the previous, Irish inhabitants. Calling them Irish is sort of like calling a white South African an “African” or an Israeli a “Middle Easterner” — it’s technically true, but can lead to confusion.

    Northern Ireland, aka Ulster, was historically a colony of Britain in Ireland. It was very different from the rest of Ireland socially, religiously, and economically; although the Scots and Irish are ethnic cousins, in religion and culture they’re very different. During the period in question, Ulster was /not/ a particularly poor part of Great Britain; the Scots-Irish generally had much higher incomes than the Irish.

    (One consequence of this was that, over time, Irish drifted back into the north — there was an income differential, and they could get better jobs up there. Northern Ireland in 1800 was almost entirely Scots-Irish and Protestan. By the early 1900s, after a century of peace and political union, between a quarter and a third of the population was irish and Catholic. That would be the engine of the subsequent Troubles.)

    Yorkshire: coal and textile didn’t become significant until the late 1700s, near the end of the period I’m talking about. In, say, 1750? Yorkshire and Ulster had almost exactly the same income levels. But Ulster sent ship after shipload of emigrants to the New World, while Yorkshiremen mostly stayed home.

    Also, coal doesn’t deter emigration. Quite the opposite! Several of Europe’s coal centers — most notably Wales and Silesia — were also major exporters of people. Historically, miners have been a lot more mobile than peasants.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @Sergey
    Doug,

    OK, I consent that you might be much better informed than me on 17-18th century migration from what's now UK. I definitely don't have time to become a specialist in this area.

    Coming back to our days - in your reply to Anatoly you mention Poland, Baltics, Croatia, and Hungary - all the countries that are either in the EU, or are going to enter soon. Croatians are also familiar with pendulum migration to the Western Europe - which is so close - from Tito times. My cost story in full flower. Between costs and expected benefits of migration, you could explain a variation in who goes where. Add to that presence of co-religionist and ethnic communities, and you get a very good picture.

    (Don't forget to add unemployment rates to the Polish story. It's not just the income differential, you also need people without good positions in their home countries. Eurostat gives just a few years with Polish unemployment below 10% )

    I still think your Brazil example isn't very revealing - 100,000 since 1990, for a country that's almost 200 million now? And with some previous communities, starting in late 19th century? I'd say it's not extraordinary at all.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Anatoly, there are a couple of hundred thousand Brazilians of Russian descent — about half from White Russian days, about half from emigration since 1990. Brazil and Russia signed a visa-free travel agreement in 2008.

    Attractiveness of the countries in question: no offense, but picking out a single factor (“Russia has lower taxes!”) is kind of silly. Sure, Russia has lower taxes than, say, France. Absolutely. On the other hand, France has a nicer climate, better food, better public services, less corruption, more amenities, cleaner air and water, better health care, better roads, lower crime rates, and women who keep their looks past thirty. Which is a better place to live?

    Income: dude, go back and look at that list again. Russia is right in the middle of a group of countries, all around the same income level, that are major exporters of people. Poland, Hungary, Croatia, the Baltic States… all those countries have roughly the same income as Russia, and they’re all major net emigrators. Poland — which has almost exactly the same PPP-adjusted income as Russia — has lost about 300,000 people to emigration since 2001, mostly to the EU.

    I’m not saying income doesn’t matter. Of course it does! But it’s just one factor out of many.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Re-Brazil. That's good, and in line with Russia's attempts to conclude reciprocal visa-free travel agreements with other countries. But I can only see it being used for eased tourism or business trips. Why would a Russian want to emigrate from one middle-income country to another on the other side of the world whose language he (most likely) doesn't speak??

    Re-taxes. My main point about taxes was that Russians' effective incomes - especially for the higher-earning professionals who would otherwise be most likely to seek employment opportunities abroad - are higher than the figures on paper because of the 13% flat tax (whereas in most West European countries their tax rates would effectively be c.40%). But I included it as an important factor because of its application to fiscal issues, whose importance far exceeds other factors like climate or cuisine. Most European - and indeed developed countries - are facing a choice between high taxes and insolvency (majorly cutting spending is politically suicidal and leads to disastrous social outcomes where it is implemented, e.g. Latvia). Thanks to no particular effort of its own, Russia's mineral wealth allows it to escape this predicament (comparable countries include Norway, and to a lesser extent Canada and Australia). I don't see these issues being resolved in the foreseeable future (do you?); to the contrary the trends indicate they are going to get worse before they get better. Meanwhile, with (probable) peak oil and continued rise in Chinese demand, mineral prices can only go in one direction. Not only will Western Europe be decreasingly attractive for Russian emigration, but the current flows may even reverse - especially if Russia succeeds in improving its institutions, social services and amenities, etc. (This reversal, BTW, seems to have already happens between Russia-Israel).

    Re-Poland. In addition to Sergey's point about high Polish unemployment during the mid-2000's, I'd also like to make a few other observations. First, with the exception of the Baltics, the other countries you mentioned - Hungary, Croatia (and Slovakia, Czech Republic) - aren't "major" people exporters, in fact they all have a positive migration balance. Second, in recent years - and in line with its excellent post-crisis economic performance relative to the rest of Europe - Polish emigration is also ebbing away; in the UK, the numbers of employed Polish-born people in employment has been flat since early 2008. So your points don't even hold up that well to the EEC countries let alone Russia.

    Furthermore, you're a good demographer, so this will be a point I think you'd appreciate. As you know many EEC and East European countries had mini-baby booms in the 1980's followed by crashes in the following decade. (I don't know the research, but I'd hazard a guess that Poland's high unemployment in the 2000's was partly linked to this). Obviously, this demographic history is true for Russia too. One of its consequences is that the numbers of new people entering its workforce is beginning to plummet. This will exert upwards pressure on wages and employment, further diminishing the relative benefits of emigration.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Doug M.
    Sergey, emigration is actually much more complicated than that. Economic differentials and ease of migration are certainly important, but there are many other issues as well. I'll mention a couple.

    One, some groups are just much more ready and willing to migrate than others. If you look at European colonization, back in 17th and 18th centuries, you'll notice that the British sent far more colonists overseas than the French or the Dutch. Why? Because the British were, for various reasons, pre-adapted to long-range migration. And within Britain itself, there were huge internal differences; Scots-Irish emigrated from Ulster at nearly 50 times the per capita rate that Yorkshiremen left Yorkshire. (And this is why the Anglosphere is full of people named Jackson, Brown, Stewart, Wilson and Hughes: those are typical Scots-Irish names. Names like Marmaduke, Aberle, and Stansfield, not so much -- those are common in Yorkshire, but not anywhere else.) Quebec sits on some of the planet's best farmland and is rich in ore as well, but the Kings of France simply could not get enough French to leave France to make it competitive with the British colonies to the south. (It wasn't the climate. Lower Quebec is no colder than Massachussetts or Maine, and has far better soil.) They had to put settlers on board at swordspoint -- while the English were filling ship after ship with willing settlers for Boston, New York and Virginia.

    Similarly, today, Moldovans and Armenians are far more likely to emigrate than Russians -- even Russians from the very poorest parts of Russia, where incomes are comparable to Moldova and Armenia. (Note that emigrants from these countries have the same problems as Russians, viz., no EU membership, no visa-free travel, etc. In fact, it's quite a bit harder for a Moldovan to reach, say, Canada than it is for a Russian.)

    Two, it turns out that one of the determinants for external mobility, it turns out, is *internal* mobility. That is, families who have migrated within the last generation or two are more likely to migrate again, and people who have been mobile in their own life are much more likely to emigrate. That goes a long way to explain the differentials mentioned above; most 18th century French peasants were extremely sedentary, and so were the yeoman farmers of Yorkshire. Scots on the other hand, were seminomadic right up to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and Scots Irish were the recent descendants of colonial settlers.

    Three, there's something called the "founder effect". Basically, a few brave emigrants arrive, find good jobs, and then send back home saying "it's great -- come on over". This is why emigration tends to be clumpy. If you look at the US, for instance, there are a million Hungarian-Americans in Cleveland but hardly any in Chicago; half a million Serbs and Croats in Chicago, but very few in New York. Washington, DC has a disproportionate number of Ethiopians and Salvadorans. Boston has a huge colony of Portuguese while Philadelphia has basically none. Winnipeg is the second largest Finnish city in the world after Helsinki. This still works today -- you can look at very recent emigration flows, Hmong and Somalis and such, and they're clumpy in the same way. (Lots of Hmong in Wisconsin, some in Alaska and Texas.) This makes emigration somewhat chaotic and unpredictable. You might have guessed, 20 years ago, that nearly a million people might emigrate from Russia to Israel -- but would you have guessed Brooklyn? London? Brazil? All of those have pulled a lot of emigrants based on the founder effect.

    Anyway. The takeaway point is, it's a complicated topic, and you could plausibly forecast any number of things happening.


    Doug M.

    Good discussion guys. Few points I’d like to make.

    1. I haven’t heard of any modern Russian emigration to Brazil either (though I do know of one White Russian family that came there after the Revolution and later migrated to the US).

    2. From the statistics, by far the most popular destinations in the 1990′s (when emigration was big) were just three countries; by net migration, in 1997 and 2009, they were Germany (1997: -45984; 2009: -1530), Israel (1997: -11247; 2009: -33), and the US (1997: -8419; 2009: -865). I don’t think we can expect any major “clumping effects” because for the most part, these migrations were either of ethnic minorities whose outflows have largely exhausted themselves (e.g. Volga Germans; Jews – much like Near Abroad Russians back to Russia) or they were specialists with very dispersed destinations (e.g. academic researchers who didn’t exactly create Little Moscows in the university towns they emigrated to).

    3. Finally, we also have to consider not only Russians and Russian communities abroad in considering future emigration, but also the attractiveness of the countries in question. Russia itself is now at around 60% of the GDP per capita of the European Union, and – thanks to its oil wealth – it has a strong fiscal position despite low taxes. OTOH, the West is now characterized either by high taxes, or fiscal unsustainability. It is increasingly questionable why Russians, without a very good reason for it, would want to emigrate to the West even if there were far fewer restrictions to it.

    Interesting historical factoid. Back in 2000, Putin was asked in an interview how much he’d pay young specialists (within reasonable bounds). He said, “In the West, they get paid around $5000. What if we pay, say, $2000?… I would estimate at that level that the vast majority won’t go anywhere. To live among people speaking the same language, close to your relatives, friends, your countries, getting paid a bit higher than the others – it’s even more profitable.” Well, salaries are approaching those levels in quite a few professional fields now. And net emigration is dwindling to countries like the Big Three continues to dwindle (in fact last year the migration balance turned positive relative to Israel).

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Doug M.
    Sergey, emigration is actually much more complicated than that. Economic differentials and ease of migration are certainly important, but there are many other issues as well. I'll mention a couple.

    One, some groups are just much more ready and willing to migrate than others. If you look at European colonization, back in 17th and 18th centuries, you'll notice that the British sent far more colonists overseas than the French or the Dutch. Why? Because the British were, for various reasons, pre-adapted to long-range migration. And within Britain itself, there were huge internal differences; Scots-Irish emigrated from Ulster at nearly 50 times the per capita rate that Yorkshiremen left Yorkshire. (And this is why the Anglosphere is full of people named Jackson, Brown, Stewart, Wilson and Hughes: those are typical Scots-Irish names. Names like Marmaduke, Aberle, and Stansfield, not so much -- those are common in Yorkshire, but not anywhere else.) Quebec sits on some of the planet's best farmland and is rich in ore as well, but the Kings of France simply could not get enough French to leave France to make it competitive with the British colonies to the south. (It wasn't the climate. Lower Quebec is no colder than Massachussetts or Maine, and has far better soil.) They had to put settlers on board at swordspoint -- while the English were filling ship after ship with willing settlers for Boston, New York and Virginia.

    Similarly, today, Moldovans and Armenians are far more likely to emigrate than Russians -- even Russians from the very poorest parts of Russia, where incomes are comparable to Moldova and Armenia. (Note that emigrants from these countries have the same problems as Russians, viz., no EU membership, no visa-free travel, etc. In fact, it's quite a bit harder for a Moldovan to reach, say, Canada than it is for a Russian.)

    Two, it turns out that one of the determinants for external mobility, it turns out, is *internal* mobility. That is, families who have migrated within the last generation or two are more likely to migrate again, and people who have been mobile in their own life are much more likely to emigrate. That goes a long way to explain the differentials mentioned above; most 18th century French peasants were extremely sedentary, and so were the yeoman farmers of Yorkshire. Scots on the other hand, were seminomadic right up to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and Scots Irish were the recent descendants of colonial settlers.

    Three, there's something called the "founder effect". Basically, a few brave emigrants arrive, find good jobs, and then send back home saying "it's great -- come on over". This is why emigration tends to be clumpy. If you look at the US, for instance, there are a million Hungarian-Americans in Cleveland but hardly any in Chicago; half a million Serbs and Croats in Chicago, but very few in New York. Washington, DC has a disproportionate number of Ethiopians and Salvadorans. Boston has a huge colony of Portuguese while Philadelphia has basically none. Winnipeg is the second largest Finnish city in the world after Helsinki. This still works today -- you can look at very recent emigration flows, Hmong and Somalis and such, and they're clumpy in the same way. (Lots of Hmong in Wisconsin, some in Alaska and Texas.) This makes emigration somewhat chaotic and unpredictable. You might have guessed, 20 years ago, that nearly a million people might emigrate from Russia to Israel -- but would you have guessed Brooklyn? London? Brazil? All of those have pulled a lot of emigrants based on the founder effect.

    Anyway. The takeaway point is, it's a complicated topic, and you could plausibly forecast any number of things happening.


    Doug M.

    Doug,

    interesting points all, thanks. I’m not sure your Irish example shows exactly what you are saying – Irish were historically very poor. I’m not that deep into Yorkshire history, but a city which in 20th century had important coal mining and steel production probably in 18th was better off than rural Ireland or Scotland. That’s not to deny existence of national differences in attitude towards movement abroad.

    Armenia and Moldova don’t quite work out, IMHO. As you have noted, migration is lumpy. Armenia has a huge diaspora relative to home population, and those people do consider themselves Armenians for several generations afterwards. Why this is so, it’s not the place to discuss. The pull effect is very strong. For Moldovans, the road through Romania is an easy starting channel, including by first getting Romanian passport. In contrast, significant number of Russian ethnicities doesn’t have a convenient passport-changing country close by (and for those who do – Germans and Jews in particular, the emigration rates have been very high), and ability of Russian speakers to maintain closely knit communities abroad is very limited (again, Russians of Jewish origin are an exception). The third immigration wave was dominated by Jewish emigration, again, no communities formed to attract others.

    Given huge regional differences in Russia, one would expect large migration flows. In fact, that’s what has happened – population in Far East, and partially Siberia, dropped, while that of the Central and Southern district has increased since 1990. If one could go to Moscow region, Stavropol, or Novosibirsk (all are well known magnets of within Russia migration), why would one move abroad?

    Brooklyn emigration was easy to predict – NY is a very Jewish city. London is a different story – a playground for rich and powerful, with good laws which make extradition almost impossible. Both are English-speaking cities. I have no idea how many Russians are in Brasil, beyond those in symphonic orchestra in Brasilia and random professors at universities who could be found almost anywhere in the world.

    So, in summary. Yes, there are many determinants of migration, and cultural and historical reasons could be as important as economic ones. However, the post-1990 (and especially post-2000) migration was almost exclusively for economic reasons, and one should expect economic determinants to prevail. In the medium run, I don’t see these economic determinants turning to increased out-migration from Russia.

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    • Replies: @Doug M.
    Sergey, just a couple of historical notes. Scots-Irish aren't "Irish" in the sense you're probably thinking. They're the descendants of Scottish colonizers who moved into Ireland in the 17th and 18th centuries, after the violent removal -- basically, genocide and ethnic cleansing -- of most of the previous, Irish inhabitants. Calling them Irish is sort of like calling a white South African an "African" or an Israeli a "Middle Easterner" -- it's technically true, but can lead to confusion.

    Northern Ireland, aka Ulster, was historically a colony of Britain in Ireland. It was very different from the rest of Ireland socially, religiously, and economically; although the Scots and Irish are ethnic cousins, in religion and culture they're very different. During the period in question, Ulster was /not/ a particularly poor part of Great Britain; the Scots-Irish generally had much higher incomes than the Irish.

    (One consequence of this was that, over time, Irish drifted back into the north -- there was an income differential, and they could get better jobs up there. Northern Ireland in 1800 was almost entirely Scots-Irish and Protestan. By the early 1900s, after a century of peace and political union, between a quarter and a third of the population was irish and Catholic. That would be the engine of the subsequent Troubles.)

    Yorkshire: coal and textile didn't become significant until the late 1700s, near the end of the period I'm talking about. In, say, 1750? Yorkshire and Ulster had almost exactly the same income levels. But Ulster sent ship after shipload of emigrants to the New World, while Yorkshiremen mostly stayed home.

    Also, coal doesn't deter emigration. Quite the opposite! Several of Europe's coal centers -- most notably Wales and Silesia -- were also major exporters of people. Historically, miners have been a lot more mobile than peasants.


    Doug M.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Sergey, emigration is actually much more complicated than that. Economic differentials and ease of migration are certainly important, but there are many other issues as well. I’ll mention a couple.

    One, some groups are just much more ready and willing to migrate than others. If you look at European colonization, back in 17th and 18th centuries, you’ll notice that the British sent far more colonists overseas than the French or the Dutch. Why? Because the British were, for various reasons, pre-adapted to long-range migration. And within Britain itself, there were huge internal differences; Scots-Irish emigrated from Ulster at nearly 50 times the per capita rate that Yorkshiremen left Yorkshire. (And this is why the Anglosphere is full of people named Jackson, Brown, Stewart, Wilson and Hughes: those are typical Scots-Irish names. Names like Marmaduke, Aberle, and Stansfield, not so much — those are common in Yorkshire, but not anywhere else.) Quebec sits on some of the planet’s best farmland and is rich in ore as well, but the Kings of France simply could not get enough French to leave France to make it competitive with the British colonies to the south. (It wasn’t the climate. Lower Quebec is no colder than Massachussetts or Maine, and has far better soil.) They had to put settlers on board at swordspoint — while the English were filling ship after ship with willing settlers for Boston, New York and Virginia.

    Similarly, today, Moldovans and Armenians are far more likely to emigrate than Russians — even Russians from the very poorest parts of Russia, where incomes are comparable to Moldova and Armenia. (Note that emigrants from these countries have the same problems as Russians, viz., no EU membership, no visa-free travel, etc. In fact, it’s quite a bit harder for a Moldovan to reach, say, Canada than it is for a Russian.)

    Two, it turns out that one of the determinants for external mobility, it turns out, is *internal* mobility. That is, families who have migrated within the last generation or two are more likely to migrate again, and people who have been mobile in their own life are much more likely to emigrate. That goes a long way to explain the differentials mentioned above; most 18th century French peasants were extremely sedentary, and so were the yeoman farmers of Yorkshire. Scots on the other hand, were seminomadic right up to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and Scots Irish were the recent descendants of colonial settlers.

    Three, there’s something called the “founder effect”. Basically, a few brave emigrants arrive, find good jobs, and then send back home saying “it’s great — come on over”. This is why emigration tends to be clumpy. If you look at the US, for instance, there are a million Hungarian-Americans in Cleveland but hardly any in Chicago; half a million Serbs and Croats in Chicago, but very few in New York. Washington, DC has a disproportionate number of Ethiopians and Salvadorans. Boston has a huge colony of Portuguese while Philadelphia has basically none. Winnipeg is the second largest Finnish city in the world after Helsinki. This still works today — you can look at very recent emigration flows, Hmong and Somalis and such, and they’re clumpy in the same way. (Lots of Hmong in Wisconsin, some in Alaska and Texas.) This makes emigration somewhat chaotic and unpredictable. You might have guessed, 20 years ago, that nearly a million people might emigrate from Russia to Israel — but would you have guessed Brooklyn? London? Brazil? All of those have pulled a lot of emigrants based on the founder effect.

    Anyway. The takeaway point is, it’s a complicated topic, and you could plausibly forecast any number of things happening.

    Doug M.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Sergey
    Doug,

    interesting points all, thanks. I'm not sure your Irish example shows exactly what you are saying - Irish were historically very poor. I'm not that deep into Yorkshire history, but a city which in 20th century had important coal mining and steel production probably in 18th was better off than rural Ireland or Scotland. That's not to deny existence of national differences in attitude towards movement abroad.

    Armenia and Moldova don't quite work out, IMHO. As you have noted, migration is lumpy. Armenia has a huge diaspora relative to home population, and those people do consider themselves Armenians for several generations afterwards. Why this is so, it's not the place to discuss. The pull effect is very strong. For Moldovans, the road through Romania is an easy starting channel, including by first getting Romanian passport. In contrast, significant number of Russian ethnicities doesn't have a convenient passport-changing country close by (and for those who do - Germans and Jews in particular, the emigration rates have been very high), and ability of Russian speakers to maintain closely knit communities abroad is very limited (again, Russians of Jewish origin are an exception). The third immigration wave was dominated by Jewish emigration, again, no communities formed to attract others.

    Given huge regional differences in Russia, one would expect large migration flows. In fact, that's what has happened - population in Far East, and partially Siberia, dropped, while that of the Central and Southern district has increased since 1990. If one could go to Moscow region, Stavropol, or Novosibirsk (all are well known magnets of within Russia migration), why would one move abroad?

    Brooklyn emigration was easy to predict - NY is a very Jewish city. London is a different story - a playground for rich and powerful, with good laws which make extradition almost impossible. Both are English-speaking cities. I have no idea how many Russians are in Brasil, beyond those in symphonic orchestra in Brasilia and random professors at universities who could be found almost anywhere in the world.

    So, in summary. Yes, there are many determinants of migration, and cultural and historical reasons could be as important as economic ones. However, the post-1990 (and especially post-2000) migration was almost exclusively for economic reasons, and one should expect economic determinants to prevail. In the medium run, I don't see these economic determinants turning to increased out-migration from Russia.

    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Good discussion guys. Few points I'd like to make.

    1. I haven't heard of any modern Russian emigration to Brazil either (though I do know of one White Russian family that came there after the Revolution and later migrated to the US).

    2. From the statistics, by far the most popular destinations in the 1990's (when emigration was big) were just three countries; by net migration, in 1997 and 2009, they were Germany (1997: -45984; 2009: -1530), Israel (1997: -11247; 2009: -33), and the US (1997: -8419; 2009: -865). I don't think we can expect any major "clumping effects" because for the most part, these migrations were either of ethnic minorities whose outflows have largely exhausted themselves (e.g. Volga Germans; Jews - much like Near Abroad Russians back to Russia) or they were specialists with very dispersed destinations (e.g. academic researchers who didn't exactly create Little Moscows in the university towns they emigrated to).

    3. Finally, we also have to consider not only Russians and Russian communities abroad in considering future emigration, but also the attractiveness of the countries in question. Russia itself is now at around 60% of the GDP per capita of the European Union, and - thanks to its oil wealth - it has a strong fiscal position despite low taxes. OTOH, the West is now characterized either by high taxes, or fiscal unsustainability. It is increasingly questionable why Russians, without a very good reason for it, would want to emigrate to the West even if there were far fewer restrictions to it.

    Interesting historical factoid. Back in 2000, Putin was asked in an interview how much he'd pay young specialists (within reasonable bounds). He said, "In the West, they get paid around $5000. What if we pay, say, $2000?... I would estimate at that level that the vast majority won't go anywhere. To live among people speaking the same language, close to your relatives, friends, your countries, getting paid a bit higher than the others - it's even more profitable." Well, salaries are approaching those levels in quite a few professional fields now. And net emigration is dwindling to countries like the Big Three continues to dwindle (in fact last year the migration balance turned positive relative to Israel).

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Doug M.
    I'd agree with all your points.

    That said, these things cut both ways. Russia has had unusually low *em*igration over the last 20 years compared to other post-Communist states and the rest of the fUSSR. Unlike Moldovans, Ukrainians, or Armenians, Russians have been mostly moving around within Russia. Emigration has certainly been happening (there are neighborhoods in Tel Aviv and Brooklyn where you could walk around all day and not hear anything spoken but Russian) but the relative rates have been low. Quite possibly this will continue to be the case -- but it should be noted that Russia is the odd anomaly here, and there's no particular reason this should continue forever.

    -- No, I'm not seriously arguing that Russian emigration is likely to surge any time soon. Rather, I'm arguing that, while unlikely, it's not less unlikely than a surge of immigration. Either would be driven by factors that are largely imponderable just now.

    (There's no particular reason most of the 'stans should be net food importers. Kazakhstan, for instance has 17 million people in an area three times the size of Texas. Even if you take out the deserts and mountains, there's still more than a million square km of perfectly good rangeland and prairie. With fairly modest investment, it could be a major food producer. It's not happening, but that's because Nazarbayev is an old Brezhnevite who's all about fossil fuels and heavy industry.)


    Doug M.

    Doug,

    emigration is to a significant degree determined by its expected benefits, mainly income differences, and costs, or difficulties involved. In Russian case, costs are rather large – no EU membership, country can’t participate in US green card lottery, no visa-free travel with richer countries, etc. – but benefits are lower than for most CIS countries, as the absolute level of income per head is so much higher than in Central Asia or Ukraine.

    So, until a genuine visa-free regime with the EU is established, and GDP per head growth rates drop to developed country levels (<3%/year in good times), there won't be any pickups in out-migration. I can't see either of the two happening within the next 5 (definitely) or 10 (probably) years, and thus emigration should largely stay where it is right now.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    You're right, good call.

    I agree that the new normal seems to be the 180-250k range. Still, that's no more than one million plus a bit (due to immigrant fertility) difference over a decade. The main effect is to somewhat increase the probability that Russia's demography to 2020 will be one of "stagnation" as opposed to "slight increase" (or raise the probability of "small decline" from low to medium-low).

    I think immigration predictions more than 5 years out are very unreliable. Policies can change cardinally in that time-frame (there is a debate: Russia's demographers and technocrats call for loosening them; nationalists the opposite); a sustained boom could draw immigrants from further afield (the opposite with low growth); climatic disasters, whose incidence is increasing, may also affect the picture (Central Asia is poor and not self-sufficient in grains even in good years; a prolonged drought there, like the one in Russia in 2010, may displace many people).

    I’d agree with all your points.

    That said, these things cut both ways. Russia has had unusually low *em*igration over the last 20 years compared to other post-Communist states and the rest of the fUSSR. Unlike Moldovans, Ukrainians, or Armenians, Russians have been mostly moving around within Russia. Emigration has certainly been happening (there are neighborhoods in Tel Aviv and Brooklyn where you could walk around all day and not hear anything spoken but Russian) but the relative rates have been low. Quite possibly this will continue to be the case — but it should be noted that Russia is the odd anomaly here, and there’s no particular reason this should continue forever.

    – No, I’m not seriously arguing that Russian emigration is likely to surge any time soon. Rather, I’m arguing that, while unlikely, it’s not less unlikely than a surge of immigration. Either would be driven by factors that are largely imponderable just now.

    (There’s no particular reason most of the ‘stans should be net food importers. Kazakhstan, for instance has 17 million people in an area three times the size of Texas. Even if you take out the deserts and mountains, there’s still more than a million square km of perfectly good rangeland and prairie. With fairly modest investment, it could be a major food producer. It’s not happening, but that’s because Nazarbayev is an old Brezhnevite who’s all about fossil fuels and heavy industry.)

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @Sergey
    Doug,

    emigration is to a significant degree determined by its expected benefits, mainly income differences, and costs, or difficulties involved. In Russian case, costs are rather large - no EU membership, country can't participate in US green card lottery, no visa-free travel with richer countries, etc. - but benefits are lower than for most CIS countries, as the absolute level of income per head is so much higher than in Central Asia or Ukraine.

    So, until a genuine visa-free regime with the EU is established, and GDP per head growth rates drop to developed country levels (<3%/year in good times), there won't be any pickups in out-migration. I can't see either of the two happening within the next 5 (definitely) or 10 (probably) years, and thus emigration should largely stay where it is right now.

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  • @Doug M.
    Anatoly, back in 2009/10 I expressed skepticism about your estimate of 300,000 immigrants per year. You based this on a figure of ~240,000 immigrants in 2007-8; I said that I suspected this was near the top of plausible figures for the near and medium term. Since then, we haven't come close to 300,000 per year.

    Based on the last few years, I would expect immigration to be in the range of 180 - 250k for the next little while. The bulk of immigrants are from Central Asian countries whose economic growth rates have been more or less keeping pace with Russia's (albeit from a much lower base). So, the relative economic differential isn't growing. Barring catastrophe, I'm not seeing what else would cause a sudden surge in the number of immigrants. Sure, 300,000 immigrants per year could still happen... but it's looking less likely with each passing quarter.


    Doug M.

    You’re right, good call.

    I agree that the new normal seems to be the 180-250k range. Still, that’s no more than one million plus a bit (due to immigrant fertility) difference over a decade. The main effect is to somewhat increase the probability that Russia’s demography to 2020 will be one of “stagnation” as opposed to “slight increase” (or raise the probability of “small decline” from low to medium-low).

    I think immigration predictions more than 5 years out are very unreliable. Policies can change cardinally in that time-frame (there is a debate: Russia’s demographers and technocrats call for loosening them; nationalists the opposite); a sustained boom could draw immigrants from further afield (the opposite with low growth); climatic disasters, whose incidence is increasing, may also affect the picture (Central Asia is poor and not self-sufficient in grains even in good years; a prolonged drought there, like the one in Russia in 2010, may displace many people).

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    • Replies: @Doug M.
    I'd agree with all your points.

    That said, these things cut both ways. Russia has had unusually low *em*igration over the last 20 years compared to other post-Communist states and the rest of the fUSSR. Unlike Moldovans, Ukrainians, or Armenians, Russians have been mostly moving around within Russia. Emigration has certainly been happening (there are neighborhoods in Tel Aviv and Brooklyn where you could walk around all day and not hear anything spoken but Russian) but the relative rates have been low. Quite possibly this will continue to be the case -- but it should be noted that Russia is the odd anomaly here, and there's no particular reason this should continue forever.

    -- No, I'm not seriously arguing that Russian emigration is likely to surge any time soon. Rather, I'm arguing that, while unlikely, it's not less unlikely than a surge of immigration. Either would be driven by factors that are largely imponderable just now.

    (There's no particular reason most of the 'stans should be net food importers. Kazakhstan, for instance has 17 million people in an area three times the size of Texas. Even if you take out the deserts and mountains, there's still more than a million square km of perfectly good rangeland and prairie. With fairly modest investment, it could be a major food producer. It's not happening, but that's because Nazarbayev is an old Brezhnevite who's all about fossil fuels and heavy industry.)


    Doug M.

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  • Anatoly, back in 2009/10 I expressed skepticism about your estimate of 300,000 immigrants per year. You based this on a figure of ~240,000 immigrants in 2007-8; I said that I suspected this was near the top of plausible figures for the near and medium term. Since then, we haven’t come close to 300,000 per year.

    Based on the last few years, I would expect immigration to be in the range of 180 – 250k for the next little while. The bulk of immigrants are from Central Asian countries whose economic growth rates have been more or less keeping pace with Russia’s (albeit from a much lower base). So, the relative economic differential isn’t growing. Barring catastrophe, I’m not seeing what else would cause a sudden surge in the number of immigrants. Sure, 300,000 immigrants per year could still happen… but it’s looking less likely with each passing quarter.

    Doug M.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    You're right, good call.

    I agree that the new normal seems to be the 180-250k range. Still, that's no more than one million plus a bit (due to immigrant fertility) difference over a decade. The main effect is to somewhat increase the probability that Russia's demography to 2020 will be one of "stagnation" as opposed to "slight increase" (or raise the probability of "small decline" from low to medium-low).

    I think immigration predictions more than 5 years out are very unreliable. Policies can change cardinally in that time-frame (there is a debate: Russia's demographers and technocrats call for loosening them; nationalists the opposite); a sustained boom could draw immigrants from further afield (the opposite with low growth); climatic disasters, whose incidence is increasing, may also affect the picture (Central Asia is poor and not self-sufficient in grains even in good years; a prolonged drought there, like the one in Russia in 2010, may displace many people).

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  • Nice post.

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  • I saw in a Russian news source a few days ago that more drought and wildfires are predicted for this summer (in Russia). However, I cannot find that source now, I should have made a note of it at the time.

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  • [...] Karlin of Sublime Oblivion comments on Russia's continuing demographic decline and posts statistics to substantiate [...]

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  • [...] Karlin of Sublime Oblivion comments on Russia's continuing demographic decline and posts statistics to substantiate it. [...]

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  • The preliminary results of the 2010 Census are out, showing that the population has fallen to 142.9 million. This compares to 145.2 million counted in the previous 2002 Census. Most headlines have emphasized the falling population aspect of "Putin's decade". But the more interesting stuff is in the derivatives. According to state statistics agency Rosstat,...
  • @Anonymous
    What do you think about this article: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/talented-specialists-fleeing-in-3rd-wave/434476.html

    It claims that wealthy Russians are emigrating from Russia with an escalating rate.

    What do I think of it? For the first time since, like, forever, I’m encountering Russian “talented specialists” in the West who are thinking of going back at an “escalating rate”.

    Perhaps the article is right that the number of bureaucrat wanna-be emigrants increasing. Considering the reasons why a Russian bureaucrat would want to emigrate, then if so, good riddance.

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  • @Anonymous
    I'm not sure how long the rebound will last. The small cohorts of the 90's are now growing up which means the number of fertile women will decline. Meanwhile the large post-war cohorts will start dying off. I expect continued slow decline over the next ten years and the decline should accelerate quite a bit.

    That is going to be the case if current fertility, LE, and immigration trends remain fixed in place. But in reality, LE will almost certainly rise, and I suspect that so will fertility and net immigration (if not as quickly).

    I’m well aware of the implications of the smaller cohort of the 1990′s-2000′s, but its full effect will only be felt in the 2030′s. If Russia’s population starts falling again, I’d argue it would be after 2020 at the least.

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  • @Pete,

    if you go to 23rd paragraph of the article, you’d see the sample size: “Katz expects to serve about 20 to 30 clients this year. Aginsky estimates 16.” Some wave!

    Many rich individuals across the globe have several passports. Yes, 2012 is nearer, and anti-corruption drive has started to bite. I’m wondering whether the Bank of Moscow president, who has just fled to UK due to imminent legal troubles, was one of the observations in that sample.

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  • What do you think about this article: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/talented-specialists-fleeing-in-3rd-wave/434476.html

    It claims that wealthy Russians are emigrating from Russia with an escalating rate.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    What do I think of it? For the first time since, like, forever, I'm encountering Russian "talented specialists" in the West who are thinking of going back at an "escalating rate".

    Perhaps the article is right that the number of bureaucrat wanna-be emigrants increasing. Considering the reasons why a Russian bureaucrat would want to emigrate, then if so, good riddance.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • I remember the 1989 Soviet Census very well because I was the only one in the apartment when the Census lady rang the bell – both of my parents were at work. It took something like an hour to answer all of her questions. Square footage (well, meters), number of rooms, how many appliances, what kind, ethnicity, parents’ occupations, does anyone know any foreign languages, and on and on and on. I don’t remember anymore if she asked about the pets, but she might have. And as far as I know, all of that Census’s info was gathered in person.

    In 2010 here in New York I simply got a little form in the mail. Race, gender, maybe age. Even without looking this up I know that most people didn’t mail back their forms. I only mailed back mine because I’m a nerd who likes statistics. Only a small percentage of homes get long forms or are visited by Census workers, so the government is probably getting a lot of its info from utility company records and the like. And absolutely everyone knows people who live somewhere where they pretend not to live. For example, in my co-op building it’s against the rules to rent out apartments, but lots of people rent them out anyway. New York’s rent control laws also give people incentives to keep quiet about who lives where. Plus there’s the issue of illegals.

    So when I read in the Wikipedia that the population of Moscow was 8,769,117 in 1989, I have a high degree of confidence that it actually was somewhere between 8.7 and 8.8 million. When I read that NYC’s population was 8.175 million in 2010, I just smile. It could be 10 million, it could even be 11. No one knows.

    I’m going to guess that the accuracy of this latest Russian Census was closer to that of the last US Census than to that of the last Soviet Census. Just the issue of illegals by itself would make that likely.

    Even less on-topic, but it’s fun: I once saw a documentary where they showed Nicholas II’s questionnaire from the 1897 Census of the Russian Empire. In response to a question about his occupation he wrote in “хозяин земли русской” (“the owner of the land of Russia”). It turns out that was a stock phrase, one of his official descriptions.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I’m not sure how long the rebound will last. The small cohorts of the 90′s are now growing up which means the number of fertile women will decline. Meanwhile the large post-war cohorts will start dying off. I expect continued slow decline over the next ten years and the decline should accelerate quite a bit.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    That is going to be the case if current fertility, LE, and immigration trends remain fixed in place. But in reality, LE will almost certainly rise, and I suspect that so will fertility and net immigration (if not as quickly).

    I'm well aware of the implications of the smaller cohort of the 1990's-2000's, but its full effect will only be felt in the 2030's. If Russia's population starts falling again, I'd argue it would be after 2020 at the least.

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  • @Nils
    Anatoly are you sure you mean 2002 and not 2010 or 2011?

    Yes. Thanks.

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  • Anatoly,

    I suspect that Rosstat will allocate this extra 1 million to all 8 years between 2002 and 2010, the way they did in after the 2002 Census. For example, Moscow was supposed to have one year of population decline around 1994, I think, but after the Census correction that decline has disapeared.

    The largest outcome of the correction will be adjustment of rates of decline in early 2000s towards less dramatic figures, IMHO.

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  • Anatoly are you sure you mean 2002 and not 2010 or 2011?

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Yes. Thanks.
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