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Too Much Smoking, Booze and Food (Russia List 2011 #76)

Crowd of Russians Including One Waving a FlagFrom: "James Schumaker" <jfs2@cox.net>
Subject: re: Too Much Smoking, Booze and Food (Russia List 2011 #76)
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2011

I have read with interest numerous articles on Russia's demographic collapse, many of them featured in Russia List. I was therefore more than a little shocked to learn that by some estimates, despite Russia's abysmal health system and the truly suicidal lifestyle of many of its citizens, over the past 20 years Russia's total population has not decreased, but by some counts has actually increased. This is not immediately evident when looking at birth/death statistics, but there are several mitigating factors which lead to the conclusion that the Russian demographic crisis, while very serious, is not as catastrophic as many might assume.

Since 1992, the excess of deaths over births in Russia has amounted to 13.247 million people, a loss partially mitigated by the immigration of some 6.751 million people, about half of them ethnic Russians, from former Soviet republics. In addition, it is estimated that there are about ten million "illegals" currently in Russia. These are mostly citizens of former Soviet republics, but are also Chinese, Koreans and others, who have come to Russia seeking work. This means that while Russia's population was around 148 million in 1992, it is now about 142 million, not counting illegals, and 152 million, counting estimated illegals. In addition, the excess of deaths over births seems to be decreasing steadily, although this trend could reverse itself in the coming years. The real story, if you go to the second level of these figures, is the decline in the ethnic Russian population. In 1992, ethnic Russians constituted 87 percent of the population of Russia. Now that figure has sunk to 79 percent (75 percent if one counts illegals), and is still falling. You can find most of the raw statistics in an article on Russian Demographics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Russia ). I don't usually use Wikipedia as a source, but this article looks authoritative.

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