October 15, 2006


Once-mighty Russia fades to a dying population (Kim Murphy, 10/15/06, Los Angeles Times)

Russia is the only major industrial nation that is losing population. Its people are succumbing to one of the world's fastest-growing AIDS epidemics, resurgent tuberculosis, rampant cardiovascular disease, alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, suicide, and the lethal effects of unchecked industrial pollution.

In addition, abortions outpaced births last year by more than 100,000. An estimated 10 million Russians of reproductive age are sterile because of botched abortions or poor health. The public healthcare system is collapsing. And many parents in more prosperous urban areas say they can't afford homes large enough for the number of children they would like to have.

The former Soviet Union, with about 300 million people, was the world's third-most populous country, behind China and India. Slightly more than half of its citizens lived in Russia. The country has lost the equivalent of a city of 700,000 people every year since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, only partially offset by an influx of people from other former Soviet republics. A country that sprawls across one-eighth of the globe is now home to 142 million people.

The losses have been disproportionately male. At the height of the power of the Soviet Union, its people lived almost as long as Americans. But now, the average Russian man can expect to live about 59 years, 16 years less than an American man and 14 less than a Russian woman.

Sergei Mironov, chairman of the upper house of Russia's parliament, said last year that if the trend didn't change, the population would fall to 52 million by 2080. ``There will no longer be a great Russia," he said. ``It will be torn apart piece by piece, and finally cease to exist."

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 15, 2006 9:54 AM

... and we care because?

Posted by: erp at October 15, 2006 10:43 AM

Because thirty years ago all the folks who are terrified of Islamicism were just as scared of Communism.

Posted by: oj at October 15, 2006 10:52 AM

I love the "At the height of the power of the Soviet Union, its people lived almost as long as Americans.". The press still has a mental block about how evil and incompetent the Communists were and are. What is the source for the data the quote is based on? The Communists! They lied about everything; why would anyone trust their numbers?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at October 15, 2006 1:12 PM

Back in the early '60s Robert and Virginia Heinlein made a trip to the USSR. During it they did some demographic detective work: asking people about their families and how many kids they had (surprisingly few), counting barges on the river into Moscow, etc. When he returned he reported that the population of Moscow (and by extension, all of Russia and the USSR) must be much less than what was claimed. I've long wondered if his estimate was accurate at that time, but at the very least the prediction of a demographic crash seems to have been prescient.

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 15, 2006 1:50 PM

I read that travelog too, PapaSF. But it seemed to me he was talking about a demographic fraud. The Soviet claims of a population boom after they took over were lies....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at October 15, 2006 2:00 PM

The paradise of workers and peasants.

Ponder how for all those years our own Comsymps, the folk-enemies and culture-traitors, propagated the monstrous lie that Communism was other than a jailhouse. They hated humanity and God himself so much that they embraced the gates of Hell.

Go ahead, make silly, drunken jokes about the ways of the ancestors. Communism did that, you know. Rejecting tradition and family, it cut man off from both the past and the future, from both antecedents and posterity. This tells us why the former "'mother'land of socialism" is sliding into oblivion.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 15, 2006 2:13 PM

They were wrong to worry about the Soviet Union then and are wrong to worry about Islamicism (sp?) now. Neither are or were a threat to us as long as we don't go back the bad old days of Democrats in control of our government.

What we should be worrying about it the full court press the multi-cultis are mounting to return the left to power. Instapundit is doing his part with a very long post that isn't very encouraging to those of us who think a Democratic win would be disastrous.

Posted by: erp at October 15, 2006 2:17 PM

I guess you need something to live for. Why stay alive if your future is bleak? Why procreate when your babies are to face fates worse than yours?

Posted by: ic at October 15, 2006 3:52 PM

Ahh, Pooty-poot will make an offer the rest of Europe won't refuse and they'll all rebuild the EUSSR.

Posted by: Sandy P at October 15, 2006 4:17 PM

...since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, only partially offset by an influx of people from other former Soviet republics.

It wasn't an influx as much as a trickle. Most of the Russians working in the various countries could possibly have returned when the fractionization took place. Most didn't want to because of the jobs they had. I saw them in Kazakstan. They were the workers of the Tengiz refinery where I worked for US interests. As the Kazaks became proficient they booted the Russians out. They were told to return to Russia. Their problem now was that they couldn't return. It was as if their citizenship was revoked. Believe it or not many of them simply died of illness, exposure, and malnutrition as they had no where to go including back to their so called motherland. A place North of Karaton called Micro-6 was the junkyard where they simply perished. Sometimes as many as 30 a day in the winter. I doubt many lefties sympathetic to the evils of communism know this, or care.

Here's a word about big oil that the left likes to critisize. The workers forced to leave did not have their gate badge revoked. They could, if discreet, enter the mess halls for food and nothing said. It helped but not enough.

Posted by: Tom Wall at October 15, 2006 9:05 PM

It's not just the evil legacy of Communism, although that's important too. It's the whole demoralization of society that resulted from the collapse of Communism. Nothing replaced it to help give their lives meaning.

Although the worse elements of Communism ended, nothing replaced the theoretical vision of Communism which could be inspiring. If reform had not been botched and Russia was prospering, then even a "we're building a better Russia" would suffice, but they're obviously not.

Russia will continue to decline until they have some sort of Great Awakening that can galvanize the people. If that happens, it will either be very good or very bad - Hitler arose in similar circumstances.

Without vision, the people perish.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 16, 2006 1:25 PM