Russia is experiencing an unprecedented demographic crisis, according to a prominent American population expert. The country’s dwindling population could make it hard for Moscow to implement its economic and diplomatic agendas in the decades to come.
Nicholas Eberstadt, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), noted that while many countries in Europe and elsewhere are grappling with the twin dilemmas of aging populations and declining birth rates, Russia is experiencing a unique phenomenon – an extremely high mortality rate for a relatively developed country.
“Russia has taken us where no man has gone before,” Eberstadt observed during a recent presentation of his book, Russia's Peacetime Demographic Crisis: Dimensions, Causes, Implications. The book was published in the spring.
Russia’s fertility rate has declined dramatically since the end of the Communist era and is now considerably below replacement level. Compounding that problem is the premature mortality rate, which resembles those found in impoverished developing countries, not those with a moderately wealthy, well-educated population.
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Richard Weitz is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.