Last year’s summary: Russian Demographics in 2017
There were about 1,689,884 (11.5/1,000) births in 2017, a decline of 10.7% relative to the 1,893,256 (12.9/1,000) births in 2016. There were about 1,824,340 (12.4/1,000) deaths in 2017, a decline of 3.4% relative to the 1,887,913 (12.9/1,000) deaths in 2016.
Consequently, the rate of natural increase declined from 5,343 (0.0/1,000) in 2016, to -134,456 (-0.9/1,000) in 2017.
Unlike the pattern in previous years, the decline seems to have been concentrated in ethnic Russian regions; births declined by only 6% in Buryatia and Tuva, by 5% in Dagestan, and outright increased by 5% in Chechnya and 8% in Ingushetia.
The population was estimated at 146,877,088 as of Jan 1, 2018, up from 146,838,993 exactly one year ago. This implies about 172,551 long-term net immigration.
Russian fertility fell off a cliff in the second half of 2016, though there are tentative signs that it may have bottomed out in recent months.
Monthly births in Russia, 2006-2017, with yearly moving average.
Monthly births in Russia (percent change year-on-year), 2007-2017 , with yearly moving average.
Consequently, I calculate Russian TFR was ~1.61 children per woman in 2017, down from 1.76 in 2016.
Russia Total Fertility Rate (children per woman), 1946-2017.
Russian birth rates were long expected to start decreasing due to the demographic “echo” of the small 1990s cohort – that they managed to hold at a plateau through to 2016, despite strong downwards pressure accruing from the ~3% yearly collapse in the numbers of women of childbearing age, was actually rather impressive.
This is a disappointing development if it represents a new normal.
First, whereas Russia was doing significantly better than most of the rest of Eastern Europe (see the map right), and showed tentative signs of breaking out into the high-fertility category of European countries (e.g. Scandinavia, France, the British Isles), this has now been postponed – possibly indefinitely.
Second, whereas before Russia was firmly on my Medium scenario for natality (and High scenario for mortality)…
Medium (TFR=1.75 from 2010)The population grows from 2010, rising from 142mn to 148mn in 2025 and 156mn in 2050. The death rate troughs at 10.8 in 2034, before zooming in to 11.5 by 2050. The birth rate peaks at 13.6 by 2014, before plummeting to 9.7 in 2033, before recovering to 11.9 in 2046 and again falling, although less rapidly than before.
… It is now half-way back towards the Low scenario, which is considerably more pessimistic:
Low (TFR=1.5 from 2010)Population growth starts from 2011, going from 142mn to 143mn by 2023. Then it falls slowly to 138mn by 2050. The birth rate peaks at 12.5 in 2013, falls sharply to 7.8 by 2032, and then remains in the 8-9 range. The death rate troughs at 11.4 in 2032, then rises to 12.9 by 2050. Positive natural increase is never attained.
Curiously, this seems to be a global pattern.
- American TFR fell from 1.84 in 2015 and 1.82 in 2016, to approximately 1.77 children per woman in 2017.
- Births fell by 8% in the Ukraine this year, so its TFR will decline from 1.47 in 2016 to around 1.40 in 2017. Like Russia, the Ukraine had a recession – though a far steeper one.
- Births fell by 6% in Latvia and 3% in Estonia.
- Commenter Cicerone: “Big drops (my forecasts based on published birth figures): Norway 1.71 to 1.62, Sweden 1.85 to 1.78, Finland 1.57 to 1.49, Russia 1.76 to 1.60, Ukraine 1.47 to 1.37, USA 1.82 to 1.75, New Zealand 1.87 to 1.77, South Korea 1.17 to 1.05, Hong Kong 1.21 to 1.15, Macao 1.14 to 1.05 and Singapore 1.20 to 1.14. (For Korea at least there is a drop every 12 years because of the zodiac. For the Nordics and the Anglo countries, the drops are simply a continuation of the trend since 2008. No idea about the rest.) Only countries prob seeing a TFR rise: Portugal, Italy (recovery from crisis), Visegrad-5 and Germany. In most other developed countries, TFR will drop significantly. As the declines continue despite economic recovery, it seems to be a real cultural change. Probably fallout from the SJWs? Millennials in the West giving up on having children?“
- Annatar: “TFR also falling in France, Spain and Japan this year, though at slower rate, TFR falling in Kazakhstan as well, seems to be a wider trend, wonder what happened in 2016 to cause this.”
Abortion in Russia continues to decline to normal country levels.
Russia abortions as percentage of live births.
Based on the decrease in mortality, I calculate that life expectancy was ~72.9 years in 2017, setting it way above its Soviet era local peaks in the mid-1960s and late 1980s.
Russia life expectancy, 1959-2017.
As has usually been the case, this was accompanied by continued strong decreases in deaths from external causes.
Russia mortality / 100,000 from external causes.
This includes deaths from murder, suicide, and deaths from alcohol poisonings, the latter of which drives a great deal of Russian mortality in general.
Russia mortality / 100,000 from murder, suicide, and alcohol poisoning.
What I wrote in my demographic update last year is as relevant as ever:
One way of looking at this is that mortality trends in Russia are basically tracking improvements in the ex-Soviet Baltics (and the City of Moscow) with a lag of ten years, so there is good reason to expect this trend will continue.
This is primarily linked to the big reduction in vodka bingeing during the past decade, which depressed Russian life expectancy by about a decade relative to what it “should be” based on its GDP per capita and healthcare system. This “alcoholization” began to soar from around 1965, and peaked in the 1990s and early 2000s. According to calculations by the demographer Alexander Nemtsov, something like a third of Russian mortality around 2005 could be attributed to it.
As alcohol abuse fell, so did all of the other components of mortality, especially those most strongly associated with it, i.e. deaths from external causes: which includes homicides, suicides, deaths from transport accidents (despite soaring vehicle ownership), and, self-referentially, deaths from alcohol poisoning.
Part of this reduction was due to cultural change, including the realities of life under capitalism (if you turn up to work drunk, you can be fired, unlike under socialism), part of it was due to economics (more diversity of choice), and part of it was thanks to specific Kremlin policies, such as steady increases in the excise tax on alcohol and restrictions on alcohol advertising.
Some comparative guideposts:
Russia’s average life expectancy of close to 73 years is equivalent to Poland in 1998 (which as of this year has pretty much converged with the US), Estonia and Hungary in 2005, Latvia and Lithuania in 2010.
Neither is Russia any longer outlier in terms of “deaths from vices”. Poland (18/100,000) and especially Lithuania (24/100,000) have more suicides than Russia (16/100,000). Homicide rates are at 6.0/100,000, having almost converged with America’s 5.3/100,000 in 2016. Though hardly anything to write about, considering the challenges of America’s demographic composition, this still probably marks an all time record (the homicide rate in the late Russian Empire was around 20/100,000; in the RSFSR from 1961-1990, it varied from 6-11/100,000).