By Paul Goble
The Russian statistics agency reported yesterday that the birthrate in the Russian Federation had fallen to 12.6 children per 1000 population, lower than it has been at any point in the last three years and, according to experts, a reflection of both underlying demographic trends and current uncertainties about the future among Russians.
After Rosstat reported this figure and noted that it was country wide, with the number of births falling in 66 of the 85 federal subjects, with the greatest declines almost certainly being in the predominantly ethnic Russian ones (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=55B9DA3BC69E6 and gks.ru/bgd/free/B04_03/IssWWW.exe/Stg/d06/ind-zen23.htm).
“Izvestiya” spoke with two experts about this development. Mikhail Denisenko, deputy director of the Institute of Demography at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, said that the decline in the number of births was occurring “because of the sharp reduction in the number of potential mothers” (izvestia.ru/news/589299).
Fewer people were born in the 1990s than during perestroika, and consequently, the number of women entering prime child-bearing years is down. But he “does not exclude” the possibility that the explanation for this year’s decline over last reflects the impact of the economic crisis in Russia.
Leontiy Byzov, a scholar at the Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Complex Social Research, agreed and said, in the words of Kasparov.ru’s report that “general uncertainty about tomorrow is influencing demographic processes.” If that is the case, such feelings will further depress Russian population growth and increase Moscow’s dependence on immigrant workers.