The Russian Demographic and Health Situation: Consequences and policy dilemmas


  • Roger Roffey

Publish date: 2012-05-09

Report number: FOI-R--3396--SE

Pages: 98

Written in: English


  • Demography
  • birth rate
  • death rate
  • life expectancy
  • health
  • noncommunicable disease
  • infectious disease
  • HIV
  • tuberculosis
  • alcoholism
  • drug abuse


Russia's demographic and health situation with a decreasing population has unique characteristics and is often referred to as critical. The Russian population in 2010 was 142.9 million as compared to 148.6 million at the beginning of 1993, and it could decline further by around 20-30 per cent during the next 50 years. The demographic situation was mainly determined by three factors: fertility rates, mortality rates and migration. Many countries have similar problems with ageing populations and declining birth rates, but Russia is unique with its extremely high mortality rate among working-age males. Life expectancy in 2011 was 63 years for men and 75 years for women. One way of resolving the demographic crises would be to promote immigration, but that would require around 25 million immigrants between now and 2050, which would be a challenge given the extent of anti-immigrant feeling in Russia. The population's health was in a poor state in 2011 and had even come to be discussed at the Russian Security Council. The main cause of death was cardiovascular disease, where smoking, drug abuse, alcoholism, bad lifestyle and stress were important contributing factors. The incidence of HIV and tuberculosis was still high and increasing. Drug dependency was also increasing and seen as a threat to national security. The Russian Armed Forces will have difficulties for the next ten years finding enough conscript soldiers if it does not succeed in reforming and reducing the numbers required. The number of Russian males turning 18 years to be drafted has dropped significantly since the early 1990s.