A new stage of Russian demographic development
Adverse demographic trends, adding up to what deserves to be called a demographic crisis, have been apparent in Russia for some time. Th is crisis is bound to have negative impact on qualitative and quantitative features of the country’s human capital, and on potential for development of that capital. Russia has been aff ected by natural decrease of population since 1992: shrinkage has totaled 12.3 million persons over 16 years. Th is phenomenon has been partly compensated by immigration (5.7 million persons), but by the beginning of 2008 the Russian population had declined to 142 million from 148.6 million at the beginning of 1993, a reduction of 6.6 million persons.
In 2006 in his Message to the Russian Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin called demography “the most acute problem of modern Russia”. His speech focused attention of the government and society on problems of demography and led to some practical measures for amelioration of the demographic situation. Vladimir Putin and the current President Dmitry Medvedev have
emphasized that Russia has so far only taken the first steps and that eff orts to overcome the demographic crisis need to be developed further. Many diffi cult tasks remain to be solved along the way, and the start of a new phase of demographic development, with many highly unfavorable aspects, makes their solution even more complicated. Th ere is no reason
to expect that the demographic crisis in Russia, which is the outcome of negative inertia accumulated over decades, will be quickly overcome. Many demographic illnesses have no tried and tested cures. Some of these illnesses are common to other urbanized, industrial and post-industrial countries, have roots in modern ways of life, and are highly intractable for governments, even for a government that pursues a vigorous demographic policy. The capacities and limitations of such policy need to be given a sober and realistic assessment. We cannot change everything, which we do not like. So policy needs to include not only eff orts at changing adverse trends, but also measures for adapting to trends, which cannot be changed.