Happened upon this post that someone wrote on Powerline Blog. They don't offer an opportunity to respond to statements on their forum, so I'll point out their extremely misleading statement and inaccurate use of language here.
Russia Decides Not To Exist
Demography is destiny, as Mark Steyn has written. We know what the world's population of 20-year-olds will look like in 20 years, because that population has been born. There is no way to come up with more people in the meantime. To a shocking degree, today's birthrate statistics reflect a decision on the part of a number of nations, especially in Europe, effectively to commit suicide.
Today the Washington Times reports on a Russian Parliamentary hearing on "family policy," at which it was reported that nearly half of Russia's families have no children at all, and another 34% have only one. Russia's current birthrate is 1.34 per woman, far below the rate needed for population equilibrium. At the current rate, Russia's population will be cut in half by the year 2050.
This implies a rate of depopulation greater, on a percentage basis, than when the Black Death killed around one-third of Europe's residents. Villages, towns, and even cities will be deserted and cease to exist. Or else they will be occupied by someone other than the Russians.
When people leave one territory and more to another, they are said to be voting with their feet. When a society makes a collective decision not to reproduce itself, its people could be said to be voting with their--well, let's not go there.
It's often noted that when people lose confidence in the future, they tend to stop reproducing. I think that's true, but the issue goes deeper, and is ultimately, I think, philosophical. Whatever its causes, I doubt that changes in a government's "families policy" will have much impact on this particular voting pattern.
The biggest problem statement that I see is "This implies a rate of depopulation greater, on a percentage basis, than when the Black Death killed around one-third of Europe's residents." First, a rate, by definition ... is an quantity measured with respect to another measured quantity. Miles PER hour, $6.99 per pound, etc. The writer here actually means to say that the % decline in population, if the trend continues, will be comparable to the Black Death (Bubonic Plague).
However, the actual RATE of population decline per year due to the Bubonic Plague was 25 times faster than what is happening in Russia, occuring over 2 years (1348 to 1350 in Europe) rather than the 50 years speculated upon in the article.
Further, the birth rate per woman is skewed due to the age of Russia's population. One can expect that as elderly women pass on, the total birth rate per woman will actually increase. Using figures for birth rates is misleading in this case.
Wikipedia cites 2005 estimated figures of 10.2 births/1,000 people and 16.5 deaths/1,000 people. However, these figures alone are not sufficient to estimate what future population declines might occur. It does not account for the death rate among the fertile vs. non-fertile portions of the population, and the numbers of elderly and the overall aging of the population in Russia. In other words, the elderly are not an infinte pool and with increasing death rates, you should expect the average age within the country to decrease.
Further, the UPI article cited by Powerline is equally bad at math, citing:
U.N. statistics say that at this rate Russia's population will be 101.5 million by 2050, shrinking by almost half from the over 143 million population of today.My math suggests that half of 143 million would be 71.5 million. A difference of 30 million on this scale doesn't quite qualify as "almost" in my book. In fact, a decline from 143 million to 101.5 million would be an approximately 29% decline in population - closer to 1/4 than 1/2.
There are obviously disturbing population trends within Russia, where having one child is considered the norm. It is estimated that the abortion rate is higher than the birth rate and many women use abortion as a form of birth control. Many of the orphans in Russian orphanages actually have parents and family who have abandoned them due to their own economic hardship, substance abuse, or psychological problems.
It also appears there are no easy solutions for this trend. While economics clearly play a part in Russians not having children, the number of Russians living below the poverty line has been halved since the economic crisis after the decline of the CCCP - with no subsequent impact on the nations birth rate.
Economic vitality combined with revised immigration laws, to attract the Russian diaspora into returning to Rodina might be one consideration to help reduce the decline. However, it is likely that ethnic Russians will continue to remain in fairly rapid decline within large portions of their own country. It simply won't be on the exaggerated scale inaccurately portrayed in articles such as Powerline and the UPI present here.
Russia Population Decline Birth Rate