The population of Russia is predicted to drop by 352,500 people this year, and could be reduced by a total of 1.2 million come 2024. The latest figures are a major revision of the 2020 dip of only 158,000 projected in August.
According to Moscow daily Izvestia, which obtained a government forecast, the reduction in Russian residents will be much more severe than previously thought. The only time the country saw a larger drop was 2006, when the figures fell by 373,900.
Against the backdrop of Covid-19, and a population that was already falling, due to reduced birth rates, the country could lose 1.2 million people by 2024 – slightly fewer than one percent of its entire population, in just four years. Aside from falling births and increased deaths, Russia will also be negatively affected by stifled incoming migration, which the government has been pushing to boost.
In August, the government reported that the natural population decline in the first six months of the year was 265,500 people, with a 3.1 percent increase in mortality and a 5.4 percent decrease in births.
Speaking to national radio station Kommersant FM, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that the country has two “demographic holes” that are contributing to the decline in citizens: the ripple effect of the loss of life in the war against Nazi Germany, back in the 1940s, and the lack of children born during the 1990s. In 1999, Russia’s birth rate had dropped to 1.16, lower even than during World War Two.
“Do not forget that our country lost 30-something million people during the Second World War, and we have few(er) women who can bear children.” Peskov said.
In the past couple of years, the Russian government has sought to develop new initiatives to attract foreigners to the country. It is now much easier for those with Russian relatives to obtain a Russian passport, and the acquisition of nationality has been simplified for people residing permanently within the borders. This summer, legislation signed off by President Vladimir Putin also dropped the requirement for foreigners to renounce their old citizenship to become Russian.
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