By Paul Goble
Only 58 percent of Russian men will live to 65, the new pension age, a figure that is one percent less than the share of Russian men who lived to that age in 1962, a devastating result given all the Kremlin’s claims and all the progress that has been made by medicine in the intervening decades, Alena Popova says.
The reason that Moscow officials can claim progress in boosting life expectancy is that they have succeeded in driving down infant mortality, deaths before the age of one that have the greatest impact on the average age, and invariably cite life expectancy from birth rather than life expectancy from age 20 or more.
The social activist shared these disturbing figures on her Facebook account at facebook.com/popova.alyona/posts/2497073736979818.They have now been republished by Novyye izvestiya atnewizv.ru/article/general/09-07-2019/tsifra-dnya-muzhchiny-v-rossii-zhivut-menshe-chem-v-sssr-60-let-nazad.
“How in such a situation is it possible to raise the pension year?” Popova asks. “We have mortality rates among working age men which remain at the level of the poorest African country. In Europe, the indicators are entirely different. In Switzerland and Sweden, 90 percent of men live to 65, and in Italy, the Netherlands and Norway 89 percent do.
More to the point, “almost all cases of deaths in the working age population could be avoided. These are preventable diseases, alcoholism, smoking, jail, accidents, murders and suicides,” the activist says. But all of those require greater investment in health care and social supports not less.
Unfortunately, as other analysts are pointing out, the Russian government is moving in exactly the opposite direction, spending less on health care than it did in the name of “optimization” and thus making it likely the it will not be able to do much about the mortality figures however much it talks about them (ng.ru/health/2019-07-09/7_7618_people.html).
The Russian government can take credit for driving down infant mortality and boosting life expectancy figures that way, but now there is little room for additional improvements there, and the Kremlin will have to commit to spending more on health care and fighting social pathologies rather than doing just the reverse.
And consequently, as sociologist and commentator Yevgeny Gontmakher points out in Moskovsky komsomolets today, the Russian population will continue to fall unless the powers that be attract far more immigrants than seems likely or than the indigenous Russian population is likely to tolerate (mk.ru/social/2019/07/09/demografiyu-ne-obmanesh-rossiyskoe-naselenie-obrecheno-na-ubyl.html).