Appeals to family values and calls to have children, voiced by officials all the way up to the president, have proved powerless to slow Russia down on its way into a demographic hole.
According to the results of the first half of 2023, the number of children born in the country fell by another 3% to 616.2 thousand, Rosstat reported on Friday. Compared to 2022, which was the worst year for the birth rate during Vladimir Putin’s reign, 19,000 fewer children were born.
In June, the number of births fell by 6.7% to 104.4 thousand. And this figure is a record low in the history of observations, says demographer Alexei Raksha. Historical lows in the number of births were broken in 2023 in every month except March, he points out.
The birth rate decline covered 78 out of 85 constituent entities of the Russian Federation, and in some it became double-digit. Thus, in the frontline Belgorod and Bryansk regions, the number of births fell in June by 16.6% and 12.4%, respectively; in the Voronezh region the decline reached 11%, in the Kaluga region – 10.5%, in the Orel region – 18.5%, in the Smolensk region – 18.4%, in the Vologda region – 17.6%, in occupied Crimea – 15.3%.
In Sakhalin the number of births collapsed by 22.5%, in Khakassia – by 21.2%, in Novgorod region – by 29.5%, in Magadan region – by 33.6%.
Mortality, according to Rosstat, also decreased – by 12.9%, to 888.7 thousand people in January-June. However, there were only two births for every three people who died in the country as a whole, and as a result, Russia lost another 272.5 thousand people as a result of natural decline over six months.
The number of births of children in Russia has been steadily declining since the annexation of Crimea and has since collapsed by almost a third: 1.942 million in 2014, 1.94 million in 2015, 1.888 million in 2016, 1.69 million in 2017, 1.604 million in 2018, 1.481 million in 2019, 1.436 million in 2020, 1.398 million in 2021, 1.304 million in 2022.
Mobilization, which resulted in 300,000 men going to the front and hundreds of thousands more leaving the country, reduced the number of births by about 5%, Raksha estimates. By the end of the year, he predicts, the country will have about 1.2 million children – about the same number as in 1999, 1943 and the early 19th century.