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Russia's population will continue to decline until 2008 - ministry

MOSCOW, August 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's population will continue to decline by 600,000 people a year until 2008, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said in a forecast for the country's socioeconomic development posted on its Web site Wednesday.

Although the birth rate has increased, the death rate will continue to grow and exceed it, the ministry said.

At the same time, the ministry said natural population decline would fall from 5.4 in 2005 to 5.1 per 1,000 people in 2008.

"Simultaneously, the population's makeup will undergo considerable changes due to a decline in the number of economically active people," the ministry said. "The relatively small generation born in the 1990s will start working, but a numerous postwar generation will start to drop out of the [working age] group."

In 2006, the economically active population will decline by 30,000, in 2007 by 370,000, and by 646,000 in 2008. Given the gradual aging of the population, the Russian government will need extra funds to meet its pension and social liabilities, the ministry warned.

Immigration into Russia will increase and will compensate for 22% of the country's population shortfall, compared with the current figure of 14%.

"The increase in immigration will be more stable and help make up for the Russian population's decline," the ministry said. "In 2004, 99,000 migrants arrived in Russia, whereas the figure will reach about 158,600 in 2008."