National Experience with Population Issues (UN, 1998)
Population issues are one of the most important priorities of the government of the Russian Federation, since in recent years the demographic situation in our country has been in a state of crisis. The major factors are: the deterioration of health and an unprecedented rise in the mortality of the population, in particular for people of working age, a sharp drop in the number of births, the continuation of a downward trend in life expectancy, particularly among men, a rise in general and age-related morbidity due to an increase in forced migration, aging and an absolute reduction in the numbers of the population.
The demographic crisis has been caused by a number of factors, including a global long-term trend towards a decline in the birth rate, and a trend specific to Russia of a rise in mortality and a reduction in life expectancy. The socio-economic situation in the country is having a direct impact on the processes of population development.
Russia has already reached the point of depopulation. A natural decline as the major indicator of demographic problems was noted for the country as a whole, starting at the end of 1990. From 1993-96 a natural decline in the population was observed in 69 regions of the country, though ten years ago such phenomena were observed only in three regions of Russia.
Reproduction of the population in Russia is at such a low level that it does not even result in that simple reproduction of the population needed for numerical replacement of the generation of parents by their children. This is borne out by the net coefficient of reproduction of the population required for numerical replacement of the parents’ generation by their children. While in 1989 it was at 0.593, in 1996 the figure was 0.603.
As for mortality factors, Russia’s experience confirms the conclusion as to a general shift in the ranking of mortality causes from infectious diseases towards non-infectious chronic and acquired diseases, primarily cardiovascular diseases and malignant tumors. The greatest number of people in Russia are dying from circulatory
illnesses. And it is precisely the changes in mortality from cardiovascular diseases which are impacting decisively on general mortality. In recent years as the result of a strong new upward trend, mortality from accidents, poisoning and trauma among the population of working age, in particular men, for the first time has exceeded mortality from cancer and is one of the negative factors of the demographic situation in Russia.
Moreover, mortality in Russia from infectious diseases is mainly due to tuberculosis, which in various years has accounted for from 70 to 90% of all deaths from infectious diseases among men and from 40-70% among women.
An important role in the development of this situation can be attributed to the behavioral factor, which in turn depends on policy designed to promote a healthy life style.
Several positive developments in 1995-97 have not yet changed the general trend. In particular, there has been an increase in male mortality, making it one of the highest rates in the world. There continued to be a high level of child and maternal mortality.
Starting in 1995 there were signs of an increase in life expectancy: there has been a gradual rise among men and women, 59.8 years for men and 72.5 for women.
There has been a start of encouraging trends through a drop in infant mortality: in 1996 the coefficient for infant mortality was 17.4, and in 1997 – 16.9 cases per 1000 births.
The existing data, however, do not allow for an accurate determination of the length, intensity, regional differentiation, structure and consequences of the demographic crisis and the impact on it of external factors.
A vital objective here is to obtain true and reliable information in the field of population. An extremely important source of such information is the census. Here we would like to support the idea that without reliable statistical data and indicators it is impossible to formulate proper policy in the field of population.
In formulating Russia’s demographic policy the government is attempting to expand the number of its partners, and is actively involving in this work (inter alia) public and non-governmental organizations.