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Media: Moscow, St. Petersburg to bear brunt of predicted Russian population decline

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 30, 2024 3:01 PM 2 min read
A man talks on the phone along Red Square in front of St. Basil's Cathedral, in central Moscow on Feb. 28, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia's largest cities, Moscow and Saint Petersburg, will be particularly impacted by the population decrease predicted to occur in Russia over the next 20 years, the Russian state-controlled media outlet RBC wrote on Jan. 30, citing data from Russia's Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat).

Russia's population is projected to decline by some 7 million over the next two decades, largely reflecting an aging population. Rosstat estimated in October 2023 that Russia's population would drop to 138.77 million by 2046, down from 146.45 million in 2021, a figure that included 2.5 million people in illegally occupied Crimea.

RBC's estimations do not include those who live in the four partially occupied oblasts of Ukraine that Russia illegally annexed in September 2022.

Moscow and Saint Petersburg are projected to lose more than almost 700,000 and close to 467,000 people over the next two decades, respectively. At the same time, the expected inflow of migrants will likely mean that the cities' total populations will remain similar.

Life expectancy is projected to rise to 83 years for women and 75 years for men in 2045. As the population shrinks and those at pension age increasingly become a larger percentage of the country, it will likely stretch the state's capacity to provide for its population.

The low birth rate, with around 1.14 million newborns projected in 2027, will not be enough to offset the aging population.

Rosstat's projection also predicted an increase of almost 5 million immigrants by 2046, roughly 200,000 per year.

The grim forecast does not mention the impact of Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine, which has caused hundreds of thousands of losses, according to Ukraine's General Staff, as well as instigating a mass exodus of perhaps close to a million Russians from the country.

Some regions of Russia, particularly the North Caucasus, are expected to see a higher-than-average birth rate, with Chechnya's and Dagestan's populations projected to increase by some 600,000 and 500,000, respectively.

These predicted changes would likely alter Russia's demographic makeup, decreasing the share of ethnic Russians.

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