Alexander Kulischer [Alexandre Koulicher] (1890-1942), a former professor at Petrograd University (St. Petersburg, Russia), who emigrated to France after the Russian Revolution of October 1917, may be considered one of the pioneers of the theory of demographic transition. However, his contribution to the development of this theory has gone almost unnoticed and underrated. This article presents the intellectual biography of Alexander Kulischer, and it analyzes his views on the demographic transition (demographic revolution), as he expressed them in his publications in German and in French in the early 1930s. Two of these forgotten publications written in French are republished (in the language of the original and in Russian translation) in the appendix to the article.
Demographic transition leads to huge changes in the age composition of the population and in the structure of the person’s life cycle. This dramatically increases the number of elderly people per one adult and reduces the number of children, but the total dependency ratio of children and elderly people changes insignificantly. Historically developed pay-as-you-go pension systems were targeted at pre-transitional age structure with a small share of elderly people. The population aging requires the replacement of these systems with defined contribution pension systems that would relate pensions to the person’s life cycle structure instead of the population structure thus providing person’s post-labor life with savings earned in the course of the working period.
The legally established retirement age should take into account demographic factors such as life expectancy as well as their disability-free life expectancy of males and females at this age. There are no demographic backgrounds for raising the retirement age in Russia.