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Depopulation in Russia: Complex Measures are Necessary

Recently, it seems that everything that can be said about depopulation in Russia has already been said. Existing position on the matter cannot be altered. Demographers and sociologist take a scientific definition as: depopulation - is a long-term trend, forecast in the Soviet Union as far back as the 1960s, is the reduction of able-bodied citizens while having an aging population. These are some of the major issues which developed countries face.

The political and speculative position: as a result of predatory reforms, the Russian nation began to die, under the strain of treatment by foreign bodies, the Governments model nation does not work, it becomes alcoholic and dies.

At the recent session of the open forum club, demographers, statisticians, sociologists and economists talked about the scientific aspects, but they discussed more the speculative aspects of the theme. Specifically, they discussed the political consequences of depopulation and resulting trends associating with it.

The first and more rapid reaction to depopulation is an attempt by the state to stimulate birth rate. (In 50 years, according to the estimation of the former adviser of the President, Andrey Illarionov, the population of Russia it will be only 1 percent of the worlds population).

Scientists agree that the attempt is naturally and notoriously unproductive. It is impossible to radically change demographic trends through a small increase in benefits. Demographic trends are largely determined not by money, but by a change in style and quality of life. Generally speaking, families do not want to have children because they value their free-time and education and then want to have careers. This is a world-wide trend and it is also true in Russia.

A more constructive policy is to improve the quality of life for people who are already living, working and being educated in Russia. Fight the very high mortality rate in Russia, which according to Irina Zbarskya, who is the head of the Federal Service of Statisticsm is a much more serious problem than low birth rate.

Then we come to the problem of migration, which must fill the labor gap in Russia during the coming years.

From the start of 2007, the workforce will begin to gradually decrease and the only people who can replace them are migrants. Judging by the scale of the problem (Russia needs 700.000 migrants every year), we are talking about not only the selective entry of educated migrants - the qualitative workforce, but more importantly, mass migration.

The resource of Russian Diasporas is estimated at about 4 million according to the data of the demographer of Jeanne Zayonchkovskoy. And it can be mobilized fairly rapidly, however many countries compete for those workers.

This all means that Russia will be subdued into accepting mass migration of workers. Due to the fact that this influx will be naturally directed to the richest regions of the country, i.e., large cities, these areas will become even more overpopulated and multinational. (The side effect is that population density throughout Russia will become increasing unevenly distributed.

In turn, multilateralism is fraught with the appearance of ethnic ghettos if nothing is done to regulate the cultural adaptation of working migrants and legalization of their activities. In the final analysis, we find an increasing intolerance throughout the entire country, radical, nationalistic moods, their institutionalization, manifestations in legal and political policy, which have all taken root in public and political discussions. In the worst case scenario, we find an increase in following of fascist ideas in mass consciousness.

Thus, preventing the rise of fascism and training tolerance, however pathos-arousing it may sound, becomes a question of survival for Russia - economic, social, and political.

A country must survive the most serious crises before it shows itself - the crisis of identity, this is by the way, a characteristic of other developed countries. It is not a coincidence that one of Samuel Huntingtons last books is called Who are we?. It is dedicated to the analysis of new American self-identification under the conditions of globalization, Hispanicization and the influence of Chinese migrants: America becomes the world. The world becomes America. America remains America. These tendencies are also characteristic for Russia as the former empire and following Huntington we could say: Russia becomes the world. The world becomes Russia. Russia remains Russia. To find the right system to solve this complex problem objectively is hard.

The problem is not purely social, because there is also a political aftertaste. Depopulation and aging of population will increase the load on the working population to support pensioners - even if the cultural adaptation of working migrants follows the optimistic scenario. This could lead to the disintegration of distributive pension system and as one of the possible consequences, an increase in the taxes to bring the situation under the control. This can, in turn, create political problems, which runs the risk of creating a dissatisfied and restless population. Therefore the only solution, which we see today, is investment in pension reform and a rapid movement towards the savings system.

We can deal with the political problems of depopulation - but only if we have the political will to study earnestly reforms of migration policy, working relations and pension system reform.

Political Reviewer of RIA News, Andrey Kolesnikov

Source: RIA News

Issued by: Moscow Bureau of Human Rights


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