Rosstat warns of the threat of Russia’s population shrinking to 19th century levels

In the next two decades, Russia will probably die out at an average rate of more than 800,000 people per year, and by the middle of the 21st century it may lose 15.1 million people of the permanent population.

According to RBC, this is the “negative” forecast of Rosstat, published in addition to the “base” scenario, which was presented in October and was used to layout the budget for pensions and child benefits in the country.

According to the “base” forecast, natural population decline in Russia in 2023–2046 will average about 500,000 people a year, and the total population will fall by 7.6 million people to 138.8 million, the lowest since 1981.

In Rosstat’s “pessimistic” scenario, Russia will meet the second half of the 21st century with only 130.6 million permanent population, which corresponds to the level of the RSFSR in the early 1970s (130 million) or the Russian Empire in 1897 (129 million).

Despite the increase in life expectancy from 73.17 years in 2024 to 77.15 years in 2045, the number of deaths in Russia, according to the “pessimistic” forecast, will increase and by 2039 will equal the records of the COVID-19 pandemic – 2.09 million people per year. At the same time, even in the “pessimistic” scenario, Rosstat envisages an increase in the birth rate: from 7.9 children per 100 thousand population this year to 9.3 in 2045. Demographers expect the maximum number of births in 2042 – 1.23 million, after which they predict a further decline in the indicator.

The situation may be even worse if the inflow of migrants does not take place, according to the forecast: in the “pessimistic” scenario, Rosstat expects it at the level of 154 thousand people per year. This will make it possible to compensate for about one fifth of the natural population loss.

“Pessimistic” forecast of Rosstat corresponds to the baseline forecast of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. It expects Russia’s permanent population to fall from 146 million now to 133 million by 2050. As a result, Russia will fall out of the world’s top 10 countries in terms of population, leaving out, for example, the Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Mexico.The population of Ethiopia from 122 million people now, according to the UN forecast, will grow to 213 million people by 2050, Congo – from 97 to 215 million, Mexico – from 127 to 144 million.

From the ruins of the Soviet Union, Russia carried 148 million people and the sixth largest population in the world (after Brazil, Indonesia, the United States, India and China), but in 30 years of modern history it has lost more than 14 million people through natural attrition – that is, the excess of births over deaths.

The actual population declined less due to the annexation of territories and the influx of migrants, which partially compensated for the demographic failure.

Russia is facing “the most difficult demographic challenges”, and to overcome them, it is necessary to revive the tradition of large families, Vladimir Putin said in November. He reminded that just a few generations ago, the grandmothers and great-grandmothers of today’s Russians had seven or eight children in their families, if not more. “Let us preserve and revive these wonderful traditions. Having many children, a large family should become the norm, a way of life for all peoples of Russia”, the “president” urged.

According to Putin, it turned out to be “impossible” to solve demographic problems only with the help of money, benefits, social payments and allowances. In 2018, the Kremlin launched a national project “Demography” worth 4 trillion rubles, under which it was planned to stop the extinction of the country in 6 years.
In reality, between 2018 and 2022. Russia lost 2.9 million people as a result of natural population decline.

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