By Paul Goble
Rosstat, the Russian state statistical agency, says that the number of births in the Russian Federation fell by three percent year-on-year during the first six months of 2023 and that the decline is accelerating, with 6.7 percent fewer children born in June 2023 than in the same month a year earlier (rosstat.gov.ru/storage/mediabank/EDN_06-2023.htm).
The decline occurred in 90 percent of the country’s federal subjects, with the rate reaching double digit figures in many. In Magadan, births fell by 33.6 percent, in Novgorod by 29.5 percent, and in nine other federal subjects by more than ten percent, Rosstat’s latest data compilation shows.
Rosstat also reported that mortality figures had shown a decline as well, by 12.9 percent since last year. But that decline was insufficient to keep the overall population from falling because during the first six months of this year, for every three Russians who died, only two were born to replace them.
The June 2023 birth figures were a record low in the history of Russian government statistics, independent demographer Aleksey Raksha says. Indeed, they are roughly the same as in the crisis year of 1999, the war year of 1943, and the period at the beginning of the nineteenth century (t.me/RakshaDemography/2039).
Raksha says that this year’s radical decline reflects both the mobilization of 300,000 young men and potential fathers to serve in Ukraine and the several hundred thousand more who have emigrated to avoid such service. In his view, those two outflows have reduced the number of births in Russia by themselves by five percent.