Sunday, September 13, 2009

The shrinking Russian population.

Since the collapse of the USSR, the Russian population has dropped dramatically, mainly from emigration to countries offering better opportunities following the economic contractions of the 90s.

Today, population decline is still a major issue in Russia. Factors include very high abortion rates and low birth rates, since there is little incentive to have children while one's income is low, which can in many cases push families under the poverty level.

Other causes include very high levels of suicide (which have declined since the end of the major recessions of the late 90s), alcohol poisioning, and recurring illnesses and lifestyle diseases related to alcohol consumption. Other, more often cited factors relate to the fall of the Soviet Union, especially its health care and pension systems directly relating to the decline in Russia's standard of living.

To counter these issues, Vladimir Putin started many programs to curb population decline. Benefits to mothers that have children, crackdowns on alcohol sales, and rising economic conditions seem to be slowly reversing the trend, even though population growth is still negative.

A very interesting approach to promoting more births was taken up by governor
Sergei Morozov of Ulyanovsk Oblast (Ульяновская область) a small federal district of 1.5 million, roughly 300 miles east of Moscow. Governor Morozov created a regional program called "Family Contact Day", on June 12, the national holiday of Russia's independence from the USSR. The program gives out prizes such as cars and cash amounts to families that have births on the day, and also promotes staying home for the day and having sex.

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