Population under Duress: The Geodemography of Post-Soviet Russia

Population under Duress: The Geodemography of Post-Soviet Russia

Population under Duress: The Geodemography of Post-Soviet Russia

Population under Duress: The Geodemography of Post-Soviet Russia


Scarred by war, revolution, and civil strife, twentieth-century Russia has witnessed sadly unprecedented demographic patterns of all types. The demise of the Soviet Union has brought forth new hardships the have led to increasing mortality rates, decreasing birth rates, refugee flows into Russia, and a "brain drain' out of Russia. This groundbreaking volume brings together Russian and Western specialists to consider the spatial, economic, psychological, and political factors that have created the tragic demographic processes Russia is facing today.

The demographic history of twentieth-century Russia has been marked by a series of tragedies. Calamitous wars, revolutions, civil strife, and political murders have resulted in unparalleled mortality rates, depressed fertility rates, and sadly unprecedented demographic patterns of all types. This volume explores the most recent problems afflicting the Russian population in the post-Cold War era.

The demise of the Soviet Union has brought new hardships -- the collapse of the health-care system, internal strife, and economic disruptions -- to the people and has deeply affected demographic processes throughout Russia. The contributors explore key trends, from increasing mortality rates and decreasing birth rates to refugee flows into Russia and the "brain drain" out of Russia. Problems of aging, increased infant mortality, and urban and rural population change are discussed in detail for each major region.

Rarely has there been a better opportunity to examine the spatial, economic, psychological, and political factors contributing to demographic stress in a current setting. These demographic processes are not only unique as a domesticsocial phenomenon but are also immensely significant in their global impact, influencing international migration and foreign aid.


The internal demographic and cultural diversity of the Soviet Union before its disintegration was unparalleled in the world. In the final analysis, it may have been too great to sustain the country's integrity. Demographically, the USSR consisted of at least three domains: the Baltic states, whose population reproduction had long come to resemble that of many West European countries; Central Asia, whose population growth was on a par with less developed parts of the Third World; and the Slavic majority and the Transcaucasus, positioned somewhere between. Today, in the late 1990s, the difference between Baltic and Slavic post-Soviet countries in terms of population dynamics can hardly be discerned even by a demographically trained eye, whereas Central Asia is still a world apart.

The breakup of the USSR has had a twofold influence on the spatial pattern of demographic change. On the one hand, it has heightened the distinctiveness of each post-Soviet country by eliminating its dilution within a larger Soviet whole. Current migrations, particularly those of ethnic Russians, contribute to this trend very explicitly. On the other hand, the breakup of the Soviet Union has contributed to conflicts and crises with substantial demographic implications, most important among them being the suppression of growth. Today, in six post-Soviet countries that account for three-fourths of the population of the former USSR, population is declining, with deaths outnumbering births. Another 11 percent of the post-Soviet population live in countries that are in fact near zero population growth.

The focus of this book is on demographic developments in Russia, although some chapters deal with the post-Soviet space as a whole. When the specialists who coauthored this book gathered in 1994 for a conference at Radford, Virginia, the demographic situation in Russia was being widely discussed in the media. At that time, the average life expectancy at birth in Russia had declined to 57.6 years for men and 71 years for women. Compared with 1986-1987 (the height of perestroika), when life expectancies were 64.9 and 74.6, respectively, it was a catastrophic development.

Today, the worst of Russia's demographic crisis seems to be over. Whatever aspect of Russian demographics one examines, but with mortality in particular, sharp negative changes have been lessened and in . . .

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