Russia's Population To Decline

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMtao.ca
Wed Dec 6 14:09:21 MST 2000


 Russia's Population To Decline
 =====================
 by VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
 Associated Press Writer

 MOSCOW (AP) -- The steady decline of Russia's population, unprecedented
 for an industrialized nation not at war, is likely to last for decades
 to come, the head of the government statistics agency said Tuesday.
 ''The population decline, which started in 1992, will continue for many
 years, maybe decades, maybe even a half-century,'' Vladimir Sokolin, the
 head of Russia's State Statistics Committee, said at a news conference.

 Russia's population has dwindled by 3.3 million since the 1991 Soviet
 collapse to about 145 million as of Oct. 1. In the first nine months of
 this year alone, the country lost 550,600 people. [communism "murders"
 people while capitalism "loses" people. Interesting notion- MS] The State
 Statistics Committee forecasts that the population will shrink by 11
 million more people in the next 15 years.

 While some factors behind the trend, such as the falling birth rate, are
 similar to those in Western nations, experts point to economic
 depression as the key reason for the population decline. Dismal economic
 conditions in the 1990s have led to a dramatic plunge in living
 standards, a steady disintegration of the state health care system, and
 a corresponding rise in mortality.

 According to the latest report from the State Statistics Committee,
 Russia's overall average life expectancy fell by about three years
 during the last decade to 66 years in 1999. The rate for men was 60
 years, 10-15 years less than in Western countries, while the average
 life expectancy for women was 72 years, six to eight years less than in
 the West.

 ''The gap between life expectancy for men and women in Russia is one of
 the widest in the world,'' said Irina Zbarskaya, the head of
 demographics research at the State Statistics Committee. Experts have
attributed the gap to increasing alcohol abuse that has taken a harsh
 toll on Russian men.

 The decline in health care has resulted in a high number of deaths of
 babies up to a year old, far exceeding the level in Western countries.
 Russia's infant mortality rate, which reached its peak with 20 deaths
 per 1,000 births in 1993, has since dropped, reaching just under 16 per
 1,000 births last year. But that was still shockingly high compared with
 the U.S. infant mortality rate of about 7 deaths per 1,000 births in
 1999.

 ''The infant mortality rate that Russia has is extremely high for a
 developed country,'' Zbarskaya said.

 The drop in population has been partly compensated by an inflow of
 immigrants, mainly ethnic Russians from other former Soviet republics.
 But immigration has slowed down, Zbarskaya said.
*****

Macdonald Stainsby







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