May 8, 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
FEDERAL DISTRICTS AND RUSSIAN POPULATION
Sergei KOLESNIKOV, Secretary of State, deputy chairman of the Russian State Committee on Statistics
According to the results of the All-Russia census of 2002, more than 60 percent of all population resides in Central, Volga and Southern federal districts (26.2, 21.5 and 15.8 percent, accordingly). The least populated is the Far Eastern federal district - 4.6 percent.
During 1989-2002, in the period between censuses, the population increased only in the Southern and Central federal districts. The population of the Central federal district has increased by 0.2 percent, mainly due to the population growth in Moscow and Belgorod region, while the population of the Southern federal district went up by 11.6 percent. In the Southern federal district, the population increased in all constituent members, except the Republic of Kalmykia. The major increase factor was the migration flow, which compensated for the natural death rate here. In addition, the birth rate in the southern regions is traditionally higher that in other regions of the country.
Since 1992, migration has been the most significant source of replenishing the population of Russia. Nevertheless, it cannot fully compensate for the natural death rate. It didn't happen even in 1994, when the migration flow to Russia was the highest - 811,000 people. What happened in the South is an exception, which only confirms the rule.
Where did people come to the South from? First of all, from other regions of Russia. About 80 percent of Russia's migration turnover is the internal migration. The major migration flows originated in the North, in Siberia and the Far East and they normally ended in the South, in the Volga region and in the Center. During 1989-2001, more than 1 million people migrated from the Far East and Siberian federal districts. It's too early to evaluate conclusively those processes at this point. However, it's quite clear even now that they are partially the result of the democratization in the country and the realization of the right to free movement on the territory of Russia. The migration could have been even greater, if Russia had a well-developed real estate market.
Regions with warmer climate - the Volga and the Southern federal districts - are the most attractive for migrants coming from CIS countries, as well. And that's not surprising because the majority of these migrants came from originally warm regions like Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
Nevertheless, migration is not only the source of replenishing the population for Russia. It's also a source of economic growth. We haven't even noticed that our country is gradually becoming a country of immigrants. According to inter-state immigration data for the period between 1991 and 2001, Russia is the third country in the world in terms of immigration rates (after the traditional immigration leader -- the United States, and Germany, which actively accepts immigrants from other countries). On average, the USA accepts 923,600 immigrants a year, and Germany - 864,800. Russia accepted 780,700 immigrants a year during the same period. Certainly, people were not only coming to Russia, but also leaving the country. Nevertheless, the overall ratio has always been positive. And that's a positive factor for our country, indeed, because from an objective standpoint, people tend to migrate to places where living conditions are better, where they have better opportunities, and where they can easily get involved in various economic activities.
Also, the census helped register about 2 million migrants who would normally be out of the scope of current statistics.