Russia’s future population

Prior to the breakup, the Soviet Union had one of the fastestgrowing populations among the world's developed countries. Its annual population growth rate was approximately 0.9 percent, slightly lower than that of the United States. However, by the early 1990s, Russia's population began to decrease at a rate that alarmed government officials and economic planners. Low birthrates and higher death rates are caused by uncertainty, economic disruption, declines in health care, and dietary changes related to economic and social turmoil. For the first 40 years of its existence, the Soviet Union made remarkable improvements in the health conditions of its people. Since 1990, however, the gap in life expectancy between the United States and Russia has grown steadily wider. If the health sector in Russia is further neglected, the mortality rate will undoubtedly increase, and life expectancy will continue to decline. Birthrates in major Russian cities are at the lowest level they have been in decades. Russian couples' confidence in the future is so uncertain that many are not having children. Throughout Russia, in both rural and urban settings, there has been a marked change in childbearing patterns. Population projections for Russia assume that the recent trends of population decline will continue. Based on data from the Council on Europe and the Population Reference Bureau, Russia's population could decline from 148 million in 1990 to 140 million in 2010. This projection reflects the extreme demographic consequences following the Soviet Union's breakup. Concerned with demographic issues, the Russian government has acknowledged the need for serious changes. In his 2006 annual address to the nation, President Vladimir Putin asked Russians to improve the country's demographic picture. He offered financial incentives to couples with children, doubling the amount of aid for every subsequent child.