Demographic situation in Russia.
The role of mortality in the reproduction of population

Translated by Demographia.ru | Original version in Russian


\"\" Vladimir Borisov (1933—2005),
Russian demographer

Editorial note: though this article was written in 2005, the analytical part has not lost its importance. But if you are interested in the last figures, see Igor Beloborodov\'s (the Editor-in-Chief of Demographia.ru) report at the Moscow Demographic Summit—“Demographic situation in Russia in 1992–2010.”

The demographic situation, or, in other words, the state of the reproduction of population, begins, at last, to attract attention of the government and an intelligent part of our society. However, an appropriate understanding of the gravity and inevitable negative consequences of the current situation is still long way off.

Our country is one of those few that have no educational institution for training demographics experts, whereas definite efforts (or, at least, a sympathy) of the whole society are required to overcome the demographic disaster that has already come.

In his Annual Address to the Federal Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the success of our policy in all spheres of life depends on solving the demographic problems that face the country [1].

Demographic situation is evaluated by:

  • the fertility and mortality rates;
  • the natural increase (the difference between births and deaths);
  • two additional factors (as important as the former two)—the marriage/divorce rate and the age-sex structure, which has a large effect both on demographic processes and on demographic coefficients (e.g. the influence of an age-sex structure is often required to be eliminated by special methods to see the real role of fertility and mortality).

I am going to analyze the current demographic situation in Russia using the most recent statistical data (This article was written in 2005—Demographia.ru.)

Russian population change during the period between censuses of 1989 and 2002

Between the censuses of 1989 and 2002 the population of Russia declined by 1,855,138, or by 1.3 percent (see Table 1).

Table 1—Russian population change: from Census-1989 to Census-2002. [2]

Years Population
Urban and rural Urban Rural
1989 147,021,869 107,959,002 39,062,867
1992 148,325,632 109,208,801 39,116,831
2002 145,166,731 106,429,049 38,737,682
1992/1989 +1,303,763 +1,249,799 +53,964
2002/1989 -1,855,138 -1,529,953 -325,185
2002/1992 -3,158,901 -2,779,752 -379,149
  Fractional change
1992/1989 1.009 1.012 1.001
2002/1989 0.987 0.986 0.992
2002/1992 0.979 0.974 0.990


However, it would not be quite correct to compare the results of both censuses directly because we could underestimate the real scope of depopulation. The problem is that at the period considered (contrast to the periods before) the population size evolution was nonlinear for the first time ever. The population kept on growing for three years after Census-1989 and only in November 2002 the natural increase became negative and the depopulation (i.e. dying out) began.

The more appropriate way of estimating the population change is to begin the count not from Census-1989 but from the growth maximum, i.e. from the population size in November 1992.

Using the published data it is impossible to calculate the population size for a specified day in November 1992, but I think we do not need such an accuracy. The fact that the population change during 1992 was only 31,000 makes our task easier. [3]

And I think it would not be a big mistake if as the population maximum we assume the value taken from The Demographic Yearbook of Russia for the beginning of 2002, rather than the estimation for November.

In this case, we can see a considerable difference between the population changes estimated for 1989–2002 and for 1992–2002. Over the period 1992–2002, Russian population decreased by 3,158,901 (or 2.1 percent) which is significantly greater than the decrease over the whole period 1989–2002 (1,855,138 persons or 1.3 percent).

The regional differences in population changes should be particularly noted, and firstly let us consider the changes in European and Asian parts of Russia (see Table 2).

The total Russian population declined by 1.3 percent in 1989–2002, but the decrease (-7.8 percent) was observed only in the Asian part. The population of the European part actually increased—by 0.3 percent (too small but positive all the same).

The calculation started out from the beginning of 1992 reveals a decrease both in European Russia (only 0.5 percent) and in Asian (-8.7 percent).

Also the appropriate data for various Russia regions would be of interest. Certainly, it would be reasonable to analyze all the Russian administrative districts, but it goes beyond the scope of this article and we confine ourselves to the data for the Federal Districts, five of which are situated in European Russia and two (Siberian and Far Eastern)—in Asian.

Then we can see the depopulation also involved some districts of European Russia (over the period from January, 1992 to October, 2002 Northwestern Federal District depopulated by 8.4 percent, Volga District—by 2.9 percent, Urals District—by 1.9 percent). But in two Asian districts the population declined much more significant: Siberian Federal District depopulated by 5.7 percent, Far Eastern—by 16.8 percent

The little decline in European Russia was caused by the population increase in Southern Federal District (8.6 percent during 1992–2002 and 11.5 percent between Census 1989 and Census 2002).

Table 2— Russian population change for regions: Census 1989 to Census 2002.


Fractional change
1989 [4] 1992 [5] 2002 [6] 1989 / 1992 1989 / 2002 1992/ 2002
The whole Russia 147,022 148,326 145,164 +0.9 -1.3 -2.1
European Russia 118,004 119,007 118,408 +0.8 +0.3 -0.5
Asian Russia 29,018 29,319 26,756 +1.0 -7.8 -8.7
Central Federal District 37,920 37,960 38,000 +0.1 +0.2 +0.1
Northwestern Federal District 15,237 15,259 13,972 +0.1 -8.3 -8.4
Southern Federal District 20,536 21,097 22,907 +2.7 +11.5 +8.6
Volga Federal District 31,785 32,082 31,155 +0.9 -2.0 -2.9
Urals Federal District 12,526 12,609 12,374 +0.7 -1.2 -1.9
Siberian Federal District 21,068 21,281 20,063 +1.0 -4.8 -5.7
Far Eastern Federal District 7,950 8,043 6,693 +1.2 -15.8 -16.8

Now let us consider the components of population change in Russian regions over the period between the censuses and determine to what extent the change was caused by the natural increase and to what extent by migration. We can easily do it using the current statistical data for total and natural population changes.

The total population increase is known to be the algebraic sum of the natural increase and the net migration. Hence, the net migration can be calculated by subtracting the natural increase from the total one.

In that way I have calculated migration increases in Russian Federal Districts for the period 1994–2001 (see Table 3).

Table 3—Components of population change for Russian Federal Districts: 1994 to 2001. [7]

Federal Districts Total increase Natural increase Net Migration
Central -1, 457 -2,778 1,321
Northwestern -813 -893 80
Southern -57 -474 417
Volga -556 -1 375 819
Urals -137 -420 283
Siberian -612 -715 103
Far Eastern -765 -146 -619

It can be seen that in Central, Southern, Urals and Volga Federal Districts the negative natural increase was considerably compensated by the migration inflow. In Northwestern and Siberian Districts migration was small but also positive. In Far Eastern District it was the migration outflow that mostly contributed to the depopulation over the period concerned.

Someone can find it strange that in Southern Federal District, inhabited by many nations of Caucasus, which are supposed to have high fertility rate, the natural increase is negative.

Firstly, such standpoint, or rather a prejudice, has become obsolete: today the fertility rate among indigenous nations of Caucasus is not so great, as it was e.g. 20 years ago, and no more than slightly exceeds the birth rate of native Russians.

Secondly, it is the low reproductive rate of Russians—the most numerous inhabitants of Southern District’s population—that explains the negative natural increase in this region.

Thus, in 2001 the natural growth rate was -5.7 in Krasnodar krai, -4.7 in Stavropol krai, -4.1 in Astrakhan oblast, -7.3 in Volgograd oblast and -7.5 in Rostov oblast. [8] In the midyear of 2001 the total population of these regions was 15,602, or 72.6 percent of the total population of Southern District. [9]

At the same time, in some regions (not in all), while having a significant fraction of non-Russian population, the natural increase kept on being positive (e.g. 10.7 in Dagestan, 14.9 in Ingushetia, 0.2 in Kabardino-Balkaria, 0.6 in Kalmykia). [10]

In the midyear of 2001, the overall population of these regions (together with Russians) was 4,224, or only 19.7 percent of Southern District’s population (including Chechen Republic for which we have no data describing its natural population change, but we suppose the change continued to be positive at that time).

Ultimately, it may be said that the migration situation in Siberian District, in spite of a positive migration increase over the period concerned, was unstable. In 1999 the migration increase had reversed its sign and became negative (-17,000 in 1999, -7,000 in 2000, -36,000 in 2001).

In Far Eastern District the migration increase was negative over the whole period.

Thus, the data of Census 2002 together with the current statistics show that geographically the increase of the Russian population was drifting from East to West and South during the period between the censuses, despite Russia over centuries pursued a policy of settling down people in eastern and northern regions.

We often cite Lomonosov, who said Russia would increase by Siberia. Now, unfortunately, by Siberia (and the Far East as well) Russia has started to decrease. So, the problem of developing the territories east of Ural has become utterly important in the past ten years.

After Census 2002 the Russian population continued to decline. In January 1, 2005, according to the current government statistics, there was 143,474.2 population. [11]

Sex structure of population

During the 20th century the sex ratio in our country was getting badly unbalanced. It was a consequence of the calamities that our people had come through and that caused great losses of the male population.

Shortly after the end of World War II, in 1946, the number of females was 33.9 percent above the number of males. [12]

Probably, no nation in history has ever had such sex disproportion.

Since that, during more than half a century, sex structure of population had been improving, and, perhaps, that was the only demographic improvement in our country. It went on until in 1995 the number of females per 1,000 males reached 1,129. [13]

Then the sex ratio started to get worse again and early in 2002, according to the current statistical information, reached 1,139 females per 1,000 males. [15]

In 9.5 months, in October, 2002, the census revealed the further worsening—1,147 per 1,000, i.e. females were 14.7 percent over males [16] (see Table 4).

In Moscow the sex structure became slightly improved, in Saint-Petersburg—quite the contrary. Obviously, that was an effect of migration processes.

Table 4—Sex ratio (the number of females per 1,000 males among the resident population)
for Russia and some of its regions
(based on the data of censuses 1989 and 2002 [14])

Regions Year of the census Sex ratio
Total population Urban Rural
Russian Federation 1989 1,140 1,145 1,125
2002 1,147 1,165 1,099
European Russia 1989 1,134 - -
2002 1 155 1,171 1,110
Asian Russia 1989 1,064 - -
2002 1,114 1,139 1,052
Moscow 1989 1,229 1,229 -
2002 1,097 1,097 -
Saint-Petersburg 1989 1,221 1,221 -
2002 1,225 1,225 -

Age structure of population

The age structure of population is in close relations with demographic processes.

The higher the fertility rate, the younger the population (on the average). And inversely, the higher the ratio of young to old, the higher—other things being equal—the fertility rate.

Over the period between the censuses, the age structure of Russian population had changed too. The things kept on getting worse, i.e. the population had been growing old (see Table 5).

And perhaps, as the main and fundamental change in the age structure the following should be determined: for the first time ever in our country’s history, the share of children was overbalanced by the elderly people.

Table 5— Age composition change for Russia and its regions
(based on the data of censuses 1989 and 2002 [17])

Regions Year of the census Total population (thousands) Population (thousands):
(1)—younger than working age;
(3)—older than working age
The same as percentage
of total population
(1) (2) (3) (1) (2) (3)
Russian Federation 1989 146,937 35,995 83,746 27,196 24.5 57.0 18.5
2002 145,167 26,327 88,942 29,778 18.2 61.3 20.5
European Russia 1989 117,919 27,997 66,814 23,110 23.7 56.7 19.6
2002 118,411 21,089 72,102 25,112 17.8 61.0 21.2
Asian Russia 1989 29,015 7,998 16,932 4,086 27.6 58.3 14.1
2002 26,56 5,238 16,840 4,666 19.6 63.0 17.4
Moscow 1989 8,76 1,764 5,185 1,924 19.8 58.5 21.7
2002 10,383 1,365 6,758 2,235 13.2 65.1 21.5
Saint-Petersburg 1989 4,980 986 2,971 1,023 19.8 59.5 20.5
2002 4,661 637 2,912 1,096 13.7 62.5 23.5

According to the census data, in 1989 there were 24.5 percent of under-15 persons and 18.5 percent of working-age. In 2002 there were 18.2 percent and 20.5 percent respectively, i.e. the situation became nearly quite the reverse.

At the same time, the working-age population had grown from 83.7 million to 88.9 million (or from 57.0 percent to 61.3 percent of the total population). This fact could certainly be used for the benefit of the national economy, but there are all symptoms it would not—owing to the total demographic ignorance and blindness of our society, including, perhaps in an even greater degree, our government machinery.

In both capitals—Moscow and St. Petersburg—there was the smallest share of children: 13.2 percent and 13.7 percent respectively (see Table 5).

Many demographers and sociologists say that these cities are the trendsetters for all the aspects of life, including fashion for the number of children in a family. Hence, with these figures, we may be quite sure the fertility decline will continue. The bottom limit has not been achieved yet.


In demography, the fertility rate is measured by means of a system of indexes.

The simplest of them is the birth rate (also called the crude birth rate), i.e. the number of live births per 1,000 of the average annual population.

The most accurate index (and the best among those being published) is the total fertility rate (TFR), i.e. the average number of live births per woman over her lifetime.

Total Fertility Rate (TFR). The average number of children that would be born alive to a woman (or group of women) during her lifetime if she were to pass through her childbearing years conforming to the age-specific fertility rates of a given year. This rate is sometimes stated as the number of children women are having today.

The crudeness of the birth rate is in its strong dependence on the population structure, including every its components—age, sex, marital, ethnic, education, etc.

On the contrary, the advantage of the TFR is its independence of any impact, at least of an impact of age and sex structures, which strongly distort fertility indexes.

Another important virtue of the TFR is a possibility of being used for estimating the quality of reproduction of the total population (only for countries with low mortality rate) as well as the quality of fertility. For that it is sufficient to know the TFR’s threshold level which corresponds to simple reproduction (or, in other words, to zero growth). If we take the lowest death rate (as in Japan and Sweden), this level must average 2.1 children per woman over her lifetime.

It may seem strange, but in Russia, where the mortality rate is far from wellbeing, the threshold TFR does not differ greatly from that of Japan and equals 2.12 in recent years.

This fact shows how insignificantly the current death rate influences on the reproduction of population.

Now let us consider the evolution of Russian nuptiality and fertility during several recent years (see Table 6).

Table 6—Evolution of Russian population size, nuptiality and fertility: 1988 to 2005

Years Population at the beginning
of the year
Crude rates:
(1)—marriage rate;
(2)—divorce rate;
(3)—birth rate.
Total fertility rate
(1) (2) (3)
1990 [19] 147,662.0 1,319.928 559.918 1,988.858 8.9 3.8 13.4 1.887
1995 147,938.5 1,075.219 665.904 1,363.806 7.3 4.5 9.3 1.344
1996 147,608.8 866.651 562.373 1,304.638 5.9 3.8 8.9 1.281
1997 147,137.2 928.411 555.160 1,259.943 6.3 3.8 8.6 1.230
1998 146,739.4 848.691 501.654 1,283.292 5.8 3.4 8.8 1.242
1999 146,327.6 911.162 532.533 1,214.689 6.3 3.7 8.3 1.171
2000 145,559.2 897.327 627.703 1,266.800 6.2 4.3 8.7 1.214
2001 144,819.1 1,001.589 763.493 1,311.604 6.9 5.3 9.1 1.249
2002 143,954.4 1,019.8 853.6 1,397.0 7.1 6.0 9.8 1.322
2003 144,963.7 1,091.8 798.8 1,477.3 7.6 5.5 10.2 1.319
2004 144,168.2 979,5 635.9 1,508.0 6.8 4.4 10.5 -
First quarter 143,941.1 176.2 160.1 372.0 4.9 4.5 10.4 -
First half 143,754.7 392.3 318.2 748.4 5.5 4.4 10.5 -
2005 143,474.2 - - - - - - -
First quarter 143,250.0 203.0 142.7 360.0 5.7 4.0 10.2 -

The crude birth rate reached its unprecedented minimum (8.3) in 1999, then started to grow up to 10.2 in 2003. [20]

And already in January 2003 the Statistics Committee, apparently following the old Soviet tradition, hastened to declare that negligibly small increase a “stable tendency”. [21]

But it hastened for nothing. There was no science behind that haste. Furthermore, there is practically no difference between 8.3 and 10.2. Such an “increase” does not solve the demographic problem in any way.

Today, demography experts (even those who assume apologetic and Malthusian attitude towards total prevalence of having one or two children in Russian families) fully realize that without an aggressive pro-natalist policy the fertility rate will never grow in Russia.

It is of some interest to consider the structure of 1999–2003 fertility rate growth.

And here a serious imperfection of the crude birth rate—age-sex structure dependency—transforms into an advantage, since by using a simple index method we can distinguish among the roles of behavioral and structural factors in the fertility rate structure.

I would not want to overburden my article with redundant information and, therefore, allow myself to give here only the results of my calculation without citing the calculation itself. [22]

In 1999–2003 the crude birth rate had, as it was already noted, grown from 8.3 percent to 10.2 percent (or by 22.9 percent). However, if we decompose the birth rate structure by factors, we will see that only 12.3 percent (i.e. 53.7 percent of 22.9 percent) correspond to the birth number increase, while the rest 10.6 percent (or 46.3 percent of the total growth, nearly a half) were a result of age structure change.

The TFR also was growing over the same period—from 1.171 to 1.322 (in 2002), or by 12.9 percent, which too slightly differ from 12.3 percent produced by the index method. The only reason for the difference is the roughness of the calculation.

In 2003, the TFR decreased a little, up to 1.319 (see Table 6). Nevertheless, we are not going to jump to conclusion that this microscopic TFR lowering meant a resumption of birth rate decrease tendency. Let us wait some years till the new data is published.

However, as for the long-term fertility perspective, there should be no doubt about that. The fertility rate will continue its declining, if only this tendency would not be changed by means of a proactive demographic and social policy.

At least over the recent fifty years, the fertility factors have been thoroughly studied by demographers and sociologists both in our country and abroad. And it was demonstrated convincingly that material conditions of life, though carry important weight, are not the main fertility drivers.

Today many our political and other public figures make various suggestions on how to raise the fertility rate in our country. But most all suggestion-makers restrict themselves solely to different sorts of government grants and benefits as rewards for child-bearing. But they totally ignore the evident fact that having only one or two children is peculiar to rich countries and wealthy population.

In other words, the growing scale of living reduces the scale of fertility. This fact, observed by Adam Smith, has been known since the 17th century, but our social scientists still cannot penetrate its meaning.

In this context, the data of 1994 All-Russia microcensus are of great scientific importance. The microcensus questionnaire contained, among others, two questions about:

  • desired number of children (i.e. how many children the questioned women would want to have);
  • planned number of children (i.e. how many children the women were going to have under the real circumstances). [23]

That experiment was unique not only for Russian censuses but for censuses of the whole world, and it would not be an exaggeration to say the results proved to be really staggering.

The average desired number of children per one woman was 1.91 (among 20-24-years-old women—1.74), the average planned number was 1.77 (among 20-24-years-old women—1.47).

I would like to remind you that to achieve at least simple reproduction the average number of children should equal 2.1.

Hence, the 1994 microcensus data indicates the two followings things.

In the first place, the very little difference between ideally desired and really planned number of children—only 0.15—shows that in the today\'s difficult conditions most Russian families have as many children as they desire to have.

Therefore, not the conditions but low reproductive needs of Russian people do matter. And in this respect Russia does not differ from other industrially developed countries. It is time to notice it and to stop putting emphasis on grants after all.

In the second place, the average desired number of children is less than 2.1, which is necessary for simple reproduction.

Consequently, even if we imagine such an impossible thing as instant increase of Russian life conditions up to the level of countries with high standards of life, we would not be able to climb out of the “demographic hole”.

Finally, if a demographic policy limits itself to paying grants and allowances (even if they would not be so scanty as they were until now), then the best it could do is to raise the fertility from the planned level to the desired one, i.e. up to 1.91. Which means we again would keep on sitting in the “hole”.

Long-term researches of fertility and reproductive behavior carried out in Russia and in many other countries all over the world have shown that the mass tendency of having no more than one or two children is not caused by a lack of resources for maintenance and upbringing of several children but connected with peculiarities of living in industrial civilization where children gradually become less and less useful for the parents.

The role children had played over millennia is now (or rather has been since the17th century) transferring to other social institutions.

This problem is global and apparently have to be solved globally. But we should not believe it is impossible to try to solve it in one country. In our one. However it will be difficult, long and expensive. We have to considerably change our way of life—by means of turning its face towards the family…

Mortality and average lifetime. The role of mortality in reproduction of population

Mortality level, as that of fertility, is measured by using a system of coefficients. The simplest of them is the death rate (also called the crude death rate) being defined as the number of deaths per 1,000 population in a given year. The best (the most accurate) coefficient is the average life expectancy at birth.

The disadvantage of the crude death rate, as of any other crude coefficients, is that being affected by the age structure of population it disinforms rather than informs. Demographics experts do not use this rate, unless they additionally process it. On the contrary, it is the age-structure independence that is the advantage of the average life expectancy.

Up to mid-1960s the average lifetime both in Russia (as a part of the former Soviet Union) and in the whole Soviet Union was steadily increasing and the increase seemed to be permanent, while the lifetime was too far from a level that could be deemed as the maximum one. However, in the second half of 1960s, after reaching 64.32 years for males and 73.55 years for females, the lifetime in Russia, in the other Soviet Republics and also in some East European countries started its inexorable decreasing. During the same period, the lifetime in West Europe and in many less developed countries went on growing, and it goes on now.

In 2003, the average lifetime Russian males was 58.82 years and that of Russian females was 71.99 years; 59.20/72.28 for urban population and 57.78/71.22 for rural (see Table 7).

Table 7—Average life expectancy at birth in Russia [26]

Years Total population Urban Rural
Both sexes Males Females Both sexes Males Females Both sexes Males Females
1958–1959 67.91 62.99 71.45 67.92 63.03 71.48 67.84 62.86 71.30
1964–1965 69.61 64.60 73.34 69.46 64.70 73.02 69.42 63.78 73.49
1965–1966 69.50 64.32 73.41 69.44 64.59 73.14 69.14 63.32 73.49
1978–1979 67.72 61.66 73.11 68.17 62.46 73.17 66.32 59.62 72.61
1985–1986 69.26 63.83 73.99 69.61 64.46 74.00 67.86 61.76 73.55
1986–1987 70.13 64.91 74.55 70.32 65.38 74.44 69.09 63.21 74.40
1988 69.90 64.80 74.43 70.09 65.37 74.20 68.72 62.71 74.37
1989 69.57 64.21 74.47 69.89 64.75 74.49 68.45 62.60 74.19
1990 69.20 63.79 74.27 69.58 64.39 74.35 67.92 62.00 73.89
1991 69.01 63.46 74.27 69.39 64.06 74.33 67.73 61.70 73.87
1992 67.89 62.02 73.75 68.20 62.48 73.80 66.87 60.67 73.45
1993 65.14 58.91 71.88 65.42 59.25 71.97 64.28 57.94 71.51
1994 63.98 57.59 71.18 64.24 57.88 71.29 63.17 56.75 70.82
1995 64.64 58.27 71.70 64.84 58.48 71.76 64.06 57.70 71.50
1996 65.89 59.75 72.49 66.31 60.22 72.70 64.67 58.44 71.85
1997 66.64 60.75 72.89 67.19 61.43 73.10 65.10 58.94 72.29
1998 67.02 61.30 72.93 67.46 61.82 73.13 65.77 59.90 72.32
1999 65.93 59.93 72.38 66.39 60.41 72.65 64.62 58.63 71.55
2000 65.27 59.00 72.20 65.65 59.38 72.40 64.18 57.99 71.55
2001 65.29 58.96 72.34 65.66 59.34 72.50 64.20 57.90 71.79
2002 64.82 58.47 72.04 65.30 58.99 72.26 63.41 57.07 71.31
2003 65.07 58.82 71.99 65.50 59.20 72.28 63.88 57.78 71.22

In most developed countries the average lifetime of males is above 70 years and that of female females is 80 years. [24]

According to the UN’s Human Development Report 2004, Russia ranks 119th (among 175 countries) in the average lifetime of males and 85th in the lifetime of females. [25]

And since there are, according to the social development index, 55 advance develop countries in the world, it means that regarding male lifetime Russia is left behind not only by developed but also by 64 developing countries: there are also a good few (30) of countries with longer female lifetime.

As compared to the problem of fertility raising, the problem of increasing the lifetime is relatively simpler, since the most sane people want to have good health and to live as long as possible.

I do not deny the social importance of increasing the lifetime in order to overcome our shameful lagging behind the whole developed world, but at the same time it is of interest to determine the real contribution of mortality to the reproduction of population.

Today our experts vividly discuss the role of mortality and fertility in the recent years\' reproduction of Russian population. Which problem is more acute: low fertility or relatively high mortality? Which challenge should be addressed in the first place?

Making their suggestions, the majority of experts, even those very skilled, trust only in mortality declining as a way of improving the demographic situation. But their reasonings often base only on emotions rather than on calculations. However if we use the above-mentioned index method, I believe, we will easily answer the question “Which of two deseases should be treated first?”.

Within the index method we need to use the so called net reproduction rate.

Net Reproduction Rate (NRR). The average number of daughters that would be born to a woman (or a group of women) if she passed through her lifetime conforming to the age-specific fertility and mortality rates of a given year. This rate is similar to the gross reproduction rate but takes into account that some women will die before completing their childbearing years. An NRR of one means that each generation of mothers is having exactly enough daughters to replace itself in the population. (http://www.prb.org/Educators/Resources/Glossary.aspx).

The NRR is the best indicator of reproduction of population because it is defined only by two components—fertility and mortality. There are no other factors in its formula.

Hence, with the help of a simple index system it could be shown to what extent the change in the NRR over a certain period of time is caused by the change of fertility and to what extent it is caused by the change of mortality.

Let us consider in what way Russian NRR was changing from 1986–87 to 2001.

The reason why exactly that very period was chosen is that in 1986–87 after about ten years growing NRR reached a maximum (0.038) and then it started to decline, to 0.588 in 2001. [27]

The 2001 as the end of the period was chosen simply because at the time I worked on this article it was the latest year for which fertility/mortality and net reproduction rates necessary for my calculations had been officially published.

Using the standard formula, let us construct a system of indexes characterizing the components of NRR change for Russian population over the period 1986–2001:



the net reproduction rates for 1986–1987 and for 2001 respectively
Fx the age-specific fertility rates (the number of births per female within a specific age interval during a year);
Lx the numbers of living females during a specific time interval (the data taken from mortality tables and used as a correction for mortality or a specific age survival, which are the same in this case);
0,488 the part of girls among newborns

For our purpose it is sufficient to calculate only one element of equation, viz. the NRR for age-specific fertility in 2001 and mortality in 1986–87 (i.e. supposing the mortality level to be invariable during 1986–2001).

Considering the system of indexes (on the right side of equation), let us note that the former of two indexes characterizes the NRR change due to the change in fertility and the latter—due to the change in mortality.

The calculation results are shown in Table 8.

Table 8— Net reproduction rate in Russia for various mortality hypotheses
(fertility level corresponds to that of 2001)

Age group (years) Age specific fertility rate in 2001,
Five-years sums of living females, LX
(taken from mortality tables for various average lifetime expectancies at birth)
mortality hypothesis
mortality hypothesis
74,6 years
(1986–87) [28]
84,66 years
(Japan, 2001)
15–19 0.0281 4.87499 4.97192 0.13699 0.13971
20–24 0.0954 4.86093 4.96633 0.46373 0.47379
25–29 0.0715 4.84498 4.95951 0.34642 0.35460
30–34 0.0392 4.82473 4.95109 0.18913 0.19408
35–39 0.0131 4.79593 4.93934 0.06283 0.06471
40–44 0.0024 4.75416 4.92185 0.01141 0.1181
45–49 0.0001 4.68913 4.89377 0.00047 0.00049
Total: 1.21098 1.23919
R0 = 0.488 (Fx Lx) = 0.591 0.604

With the hypothesis that mortality level corresponds to the period 1986–87 and is invariable (and the actual fertility corresponds to 2001), we would get the NRR equaled 0.591, which is only 0.003 over the real 2001 NRR.

And with that, frankly speaking, extremely little difference we can see how inappreciable was the effect of the mortality growth on the reproduction of Russian population over the period considered.

This conclusion can be represented in the following way.

Substituting both the known and the calculated NRRs into the index system:


on the right side of the equation we get two indexes: the former displays how the change in fertility impacts on the NRR, the latter displays the same regarding the change in mortality.

Subtracting the indexes from unity and converting the results to percents, we determine the NRR change.

–43.4% = –43.064% – 0.005%

After making the correction, we obtain;

–43.4%= –43.395% – 0.005%

From this we can deduce that from 1986 to 2001 Russian NRR declined by 43.5 per cent, which is composed of two parts: 43.395 percent (the NRR decline due to fertility) and 0.005 percent (the NRR decline due to mortality)

If the total NRR decline would be assigned as 100 percent, then 99.9999 percent of the decline is caused by the drop of fertility and only 0.0001 percent is caused by the growth of mortality.

Now let us consider another hypothesis where the mortality level is that of Japan, i.e. the lowest in the today’s world, and the level of fertility is also the world’s lowest (Russian fertility). Substitute the appropriate NRR from Table 8 into the same index system:


And after the correction we get again the same:

–43.4% = –43.4% – 0.03%

Hence, in this scenario, mortality also contributes nothing to the reproduction of population.

By the way, this fact may seem surprising (for someone) but can be quite simply explained.

Nowadays, most Russian women give birth to all their children (or more frequently to their only child) at the age of 20–35. In 2001 there were 80.5 percent of live births in that age interval. [29]

At the same time, a probability of death is, naturally, small for those ages. There were only 2.1 percent of 20-35-years-old women died in 2001. [30]

It would not be a great exaggeration to say that very few, if any,women die at the ages considered. We may only rejoice at this fact, never forgetting, however, about the “few”.

Quite the contrary, 96.3 percent of female deaths occurs at the ages of 50 and higher, when women do not bear children (except single instances). So that is the answer on the question about extremely little impact of mortality on the current reproduction of population.

From my simple calculations, I hope, you see that the current not so low mortality level plays rather small role in reproduction of Russian population. The mortality has lost its demographic significance, though had it for millennia.

It does not mean the struggle with mortality should be depreciated. Certainly, the social, economic, political or any other importance of this struggle is indisputable. But its demographic significance is negligible.

By means of declining mortality down to a level as low as we wish (unless it is the level of total immortality) it is absolutely impossible to entirely improve the demographic situation. Or even to improve it a bit.

This fact must be fully realized or we risk losing our energy and resources as well as the precious time.

Today there are two main factors that define the whole demographic future of our country—fertility and family.

This is a real challenge. And if it is taken up, we have to change many things in our way of life and our culture. If we won\'t be able to do it, Russia is destined to dying out.

But I believe the historic experience of many our so called modernizations, which sometimes were successful, can offer hope for success. But not for a quick fix…

[1] Russian President Vladimir Putin\'s Annual Address to the Federal Assembly, April 25, 2005—http://www.kremlin.ru/text/appears/2005/04/87049.shtml

[2] Data sources:

  • 1989—1989 Census data—Brief social-demographic characteristics of Russian population according to 1989 Census data. М. Госкомстат России. 1991. С. 6–7;
  • 1992—current state statistics data for the beginnig of the year—Численность, состав и движение населения в Российской Федерации. М. Госкомстат России. 1992. С. 54–56.
  • 2002—2002 Census data—Итоги Всероссийской переписи населения 2002 года. Том 1. Численность и размещение населения. М. Госкомстат России. 2002. С. 10.

[3] The Demographic Yearbook of Russia, 2002. М. Госкомстат РФ. 2002. С. 20.

[4] Population size according to Census 1989 (February 12).

[5] Calculated population size for the beginning of the year (January 1).

[6] Population size according to Census 2002 (October 9).

[7] Calculated by me according to The Demographic Yearbooks of Russia for 1995—2002. (М. Госкомстат России).The choice of the 1994 year as the beginning of the calculation period was motivated only by availability of initial statistical data necessary for the calculation.

[8] The Demographic Yearbook of Russia, 2002.М. Госкомстат России, 2002. С. 65–66.

[9] Calculated according to the same source.

[10] Ibid., p. 64–65.

[11] http://www.gks.ru/

[12] Андреев Е. М., Дарский Л. Е., Харькова Т. Л. Демографическая история России: 1927–1959. М. 1998. С. 158, 160.

[13] The Demographic Yearbook of Russia, 2002. М., Госкомстат России, 2002, с. 31

[14] Data sources: Brief social-demographic characteristics of Russian population according to 1989 Census data. Часть I. М., Госкомстат России. 1991. С. 31–33;

Age-sex composition and marriage state. 2002 Census data. Том 2. М. Госкомстат России. С. 15–299.

[15] ibid., p. 31.

[16] Considering the sex structure in terms of “good” or “bad” does not mean a sex discrimination. This is only an assesement of the sex structure from the standpoint of its influence on making families. As is known, there are more boys that girls among newborns. The ratio, 105–107 boys per 100 girls, is always constant, irrespectively of race, nation, geographical location, economics and any other social factors.

However, as the people grow up, the sex ratio changes in the direction of female prevalence. The longer the males lifetime (and also the smaller the difference between average lifetimes of males and females), the longer the males keep on having a majority. Hence, the older the age of the sexes numerical equality (after which the prevalence of males starts to change to the prevalence of females) is, the more positive is the assesement of the sex structure.

[17] 1989 data dor Federal Districts have recalculated by me according to their administrative division as of after 2000.

Data sources : Brief social-demographic characteristics of Russian population according to 1989 Census data. Часть I. М. Госкомстат России. 1991. С. 66–94.

Age-sex composition and marriage state. 2002 Census data. Т. 2. Таблица 2. М., Госкомстат России. 2004. С. 6–299.

[18] The method of calculating these indicators is not presented here for the sake of space saving and can be seen in any demography text- or referencebook.

[19] За 1990—2001 гг.—The Demographic Yearbook of Russia. М. Госкомстат РФ. 2002. С. 55, 119.

2002 —1st quarter of 2005.—my calculations based on the data published at http://www.gks.ru/bgd/regl/b07_13/IssWWW.exe/Stg/d01/04–02.htm

[20] I have choosen the 2003 because it was the latest year for which on www.gks.ru there were the necessary age-specific fertility rates.

[21] http://www.gks.ru/scripts/regstat/1c1.exe? XXXX06F/1161.

[22] The calculation methos is described in detail in different demographics textbooks, see e.g.: Борисов В. А. Демография. М. 1999. С. 145–150; 2001. С. 145–150; 2003. С. 164–169; 2005. С. 164–169.

[23] Borisov V . Desired number of children in Russian families according to 1994 Microcensus // Вестник Московского университета. Серия 18. Социология и политология. М. 1997. № 2. С. 32.

[24] http://www.demoscope.ru/weekly/2005/0205/barom05.php

[25] UN Human Development Report, 2004. Программа развития ООН, Изд-во “Весь Мир”. 2004. Таблица 24. С. 239–242.—http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr04_ru_complete.pdf

[26] За 1958—2001 гг.—The Demographic Yearbook of Russia, 2002. М. Госкомстат России. 2002. С. 105.

За 2002—2003 гг.—The Demographic Yearbook of Russia, 2004. М. Госкомстат России. 2004. С. 148.

[27] The Demographic Yearbook of Russia, 2002.М. Госкомстат России. 2002. С. 116.

[28] Mortality and life expectancy tables. М. Госкомстат СССР. 1989. С. 236.

[29] The Demographic Yearbook of Russia, 2002. М. 2002. С. 133.

[30] Ibid., p. 162.

Дата публикации: 2010-11-15 17:14:53