December 29, 2005


Population gloom: A new study says Russia's demographic 'devastation' has left it facing increasing crisis (Tom Parfitt, December 29, 2005, Guardian Unlimited)

Boris Vasiliev stomped down the snow-covered track that is the main street of his village and paused outside a dilapidated single-storey building.

"That used to be the doctor's surgery," he said, and then pointed back the way he had come. "Down there was the shop. A bit further, the social club."

Either side of the track were two long lines of empty wooden cottages. Buyavino, in the Tver region 130 miles north of Moscow, is one of tens of thousands of Russian villages slowly dying out as the country faces an alarming decline in its population.

When Guardian Unlimited visited earlier this year, Mr Vasiliev, a 58-year-old forestry worker, was the youngest person in the village and the only one with a job. [...]

Russia's population has plummeted by almost 7% to 143 million in the last 15 years, and is predicted to drop by another 20 million by 2025. And as Moscow gears up to take over the presidency of the G8 on January 1, the Kremlin is being urged to meet the crisis head on.

In a report published last week, Delovaya Rossiya, a business lobby group, predicted that the country would lose an astonishing $400bn (£232bn) in the next two decades if it failed to tackle the population dive.

Inadequate government efforts to encourage immigration, support young families and promote healthy eating are having a disastrous effect on President Vladimir Putin's oft-repeated desire to double GDP, it said.

There's no reason to expect nations in demographic decline to grow their economies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 29, 2005 10:37 AM
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