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Are Russians Choosing Extinction?

Power Line has an interesting post today about Russians and how they are not reproducing enough children to replenish their current population. In fact, so few Russians are having children that the population will be cut in half by 2050.

This implies a rate of depopulation greater, on a percentage basis, than when the Black Death killed around one-third of Europe's residents. Villages, towns, and even cities will be deserted and cease to exist. Or else they will be occupied by someone other than the Russians.

Here's the Washington Times article that Power Line sourced.


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Comments (13)

Would they like a few illeg... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

Would they like a few illegals we seem to have a surplus?

I remember seeing an identi... (Below threshold)
Eric:

I remember seeing an identical story about this some years ago on 60 Minutes. They interviewed some university professor who had written a book on the subject. The story went into great detail about how poor the daily conditions were in Russia. One picture that I still remember was of the rotting ceiling insulation and over all filthy condition of one of the operating rooms in what was considered the top hospital in Moscow.

Today the Russian population is 143M, in 1990 it was 148M, that's -3% growth over 16 years. Whereas the U.S. has had +20% population growth over the same period.

Not that much different tha... (Below threshold)
Matt:

Not that much different than the rest of the indistrialized world, really, but in the case of Russia, the problem is exacerbated by the effects of years of bad government followed by more bad gov't, just of a different sort. Russian men have such serious addiction problems that Russian women can't find it in them to marry or have kids with them, which is not surprising (would you want to have kids with someone who drinks vodka all the freaking time??) But aside even from that, even if the situation wasn't as bad as that in that way, having kids takes more time and energy than people want to spend these days on it. So they just don't do it nearly like they used to. The same problem (assuming you think it is one) is in America, GB, Europe, etc., with immigrants (legal and not) making up the labor (read "population") shortfall.

I can understand why Americans and Europeans don't want "foreign labor cheapening the wages," but that happens in every era of change: last century, it was "those damned Irish" people were complaining about, but without them, America's industrialization would not have taken place nearly as effectively as it did.

The biggest thing to be concerned with here really is that the "modern" style of living deprecates child-rearing and endorses capital productivity. Because of this, people avoid having kids. Also, since gov't has become so much more involved directly in family life issues, perhaps some see having kids as a huge legal liability beyond any financial ones. Putting it all together, you get a big incentive to not reproduce. Doesn't take a genius to figure out what's going on here, or where it's going to lead. Advice for those seeking alternative career routes: elder care is a growth industry!

Jerry Pournelle pointed out... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Jerry Pournelle pointed outs years ago that the Four Horseman do nothing to significantly reduce populations. They kill off people, who produce twice as many children as before. His thesis was that the only significant reduction in population came from wealth. I think Russia and Europe in general are proving him wrong on that regard. While wealth may be one reducing factor, apparently a complete loss of faith in ones people and culture has the same net effect.
So we have the Fifth Horseman, more deadly than the previous four, and his name is Despair.

I wrote about this a long t... (Below threshold)

I wrote about this a long time ago.

http://historysend.blogspot.com/2005/02/russian-compendium.html

Not exactly professional, nor as coherent as I would like, but it covers some of what is mentioned.

Hmmm.1. <blockquot... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

1.

I can understand why Americans and Europeans don't want "foreign labor cheapening the wages," ...

Frankly that doesn't even come close to covering the multitude of reasons for opposing illegal immigration. But as far as wages are concerned the issue isn't that foreign labor is cheapening the wages. It's that *illegal* labor is eliminating job opportunities completely for American citizens.

That's a far different thing.

2. Italy, Japan and Spain are in the same situation. Germany's population will be cut by half by 2050.

However the real problem isn't Russia or any western country. IMHO it's China. China is a demographic landmine waiting to blow up.

A similar article on how Eu... (Below threshold)
Twok:

A similar article on how Europeans are choosing extinction, and giving up on the future.

This demographic catastroph... (Below threshold)
smitty:

This demographic catastrophe started in 1917 thanks to the policies of Lenin and Stalin. Millions died in disastrous wars, the gulags and purges. Today, Russia remains polluted, its farm land ruined, its industry in shambles, its citizens demoralized, its infants aborted.

When the Russians finally disappear who's going to move into all that empty land? It'll be the Chinese in the east and the Muslims in the south. Only Russia's western borders are secure, for now.

Check out Pat Buchanan's De... (Below threshold)

Check out Pat Buchanan's Death Of The West, very thought provoking.

Damn. Where was this news ... (Below threshold)
docjim505:

Damn. Where was this news twenty years ago when we had to worry about the Soviets?

I really like John Irving's remark about the Fifth Horseman; sort of profound.

The Fifth Horseman comment ... (Below threshold)

The Fifth Horseman comment reminded me of something I read somewhere years ago that "having children is the ultimate act of optimism". While impoverished people may propogate at a great rate (ie China, India, etc), it seems to be a modern phenomenon that the people of industrialized nations slow their population growth when they're pessimistic about the future. Witness that the post-war baby boom ended with the assassination of Kennedy, civil unrest in the large northern cities, Watergate, inflation, gas crisis, etc etc etc.

I remember seeing something... (Below threshold)

I remember seeing something on europe and italy. How Italy has the slowest growth of all the Industrialized European nations. I don't remember where I saw it, but it just makes you think, the real reason we're growing and expanding is our immigrants. Who reproduces the most? The lower classes, often people dependant on government welfare (isn't that ironic?) Who reproduces the least? Generally the upper classes and those who are too busy to maintain full families, or even to rear them in a traditional nuclear-family lifestyle. It just makes you wonder about the worry of the Population J-Curve. When we have very few third-world countries left, you'll start to see that J stagnate a bit and hold off.

Hmmm.1. Actually R... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

1. Actually Russia's problem isn't just childless marriages and rampant alcoholism. It's abortion believe it or not.

For decades abortion was seen, and perhaps still seen, as a method of birth control rather than as a last resort act. I read of one woman who has had almost twenty abortions and who is still yet to hit 40 years of age.

2. I don't think this lack of children belies any real substantial lack of optimism but rather is an artifact of modern society's ROI (Return On Investment) made flesh.

Having children in poor societies is a necessity because the descendent generations will provide more income to the parent than the parent can earn alone. A single pair of adults can earn only what two adults could potentially earn. Five adult children are now able to supplement that income with the further labor of the five adults. If ten children survive into adulthood then the gross potential income of the parents has now increased dramatically yet again. So in poor societies the more children that survive into adulthood, and thus contribute to the overall financial health of the family, the better.

However in weathly, relatively speaking, societies children have to compete with other wealth generation mechanisms. Raising a child in America costs literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some of that cost is ameliorated by spreading it across the entire population, such as primary education. But others are borne entirely by the parents. I believe a study was done that profiled this issue.

The amount of money necessary to raise a child in America was calculated and then compared with the child being raised into adulthood, getting a career and earning sufficient money to adequately fund the parents when they grew older. This study found that the parents were almost universally better off taking the money, not having a child and simply investing it in a S&P 500 fund.

Assuming it costs an average of $10,000 USD per year for the child over 18 years then you get this: (using ultra-simplistic "ed" math so don't beat me up ok? I'm still not completely awake yet so I could be wrong on the numbers.)

18 years of child rearing, without college costs included: -$180,000

18 years of compounded returns on $10k invested per year with an average 8% ROI: +$400,000 after 18 years

If it's $15k per year with 8% ROI?: +$600,000 after 18 years

Including costs for State college that's invested instead?: +$620,000 after 22 years

Including costs for Ridculous University that are invested instead?: +$790,000 after 22 years

Am I suggesting people use spreadsheets to figure this out? Probably not. But financial considerations usually are taken prior to having children and this may be a part of it.

*shrug* YMMV.




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