Monday, October 11, 2004

Not success

In the spirit of my last depressing post on demography, I link to this Atlantic piece on Russia. If other European peoples are dying out, then Russians are dying out a lot faster:
Heart disease, alcohol consumption, and tuberculosis are epidemic. So is addiction to nicotine. You won’t see many pregnant women on the streets; Russia has one of the lowest peacetime birth rates in modern history. Long life is one of the central characteristics of an advanced society; in Russia, men often die too young to collect a pension. In the United States, even during the Great Depression mortality rates continued to drop, and the same has been true for all other developed countries. Except Russia. In the past decade, life expectancy has fallen so drastically that a boy born in Russia today can expect to live just to the age of fifty-eight, younger than if he were born in Bangladesh.
If Russia is lucky, by 2050 the population will have fallen by only a third, to a hundred million. That is the most optimistic government scenario. More realistic predictions suggest that the number will be closer to seventy-five or eighty million—a little more than half the current population.


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