Russia’s population declined precipitously after the Soviet collapse, with low birth rates and high death rates throughout the tumultuous 1990s and much of the following decade. Media stories of a “dying Russia” appeared regularly. These two factors help explain the resilience of the claim that the country’s population continues to drop. In fact, it has been growing steadily since 2009, thanks in some part to state-funded incentives that have boosted birth rates, which surpassed both America’s and the EU’s sometime around 2011 (see separate graph below). According to the World Bank, Russia’s net population loss between 1992 and 2016 was 3%—far less than in smaller ex-Soviet republics like the Baltics, Georgia, Armenia and even Ukraine. This is not to say that Russia’s demographic challenges are over: Vast swaths of the country are very sparsely populated and some researchers have projected that the steep drop in fertility rates in the 1990s will result in a significant decline in the number of women of childbearing age in the coming years, which, combined with high mortality rates, will lead to renewed population decline that will be hard to make up for even with high levels of immigration. To compare with other countries select from among the different radio buttons below.
Birth & Death Rates
While life expectancy in Russia has been rising steadily since 2003, it still compares poorly to other countries. In 2015, according to the World Health Organization, Russia ranked 110th out of 183 nations with an average life expectancy at birth of 70.5, compared to a global average of 71.4. (Other sources rank it considerably lower because they include more countries and territories: 154th in 2017 per the CIA, 166th in 2015 per the World Bank and 150th in 2010-2015 per the U.N.) Moreover, the disparity between men and women—in the latter's favor—was the largest in the world in 2015 and has been among the top three for some years. Women’s life expectancy at birth in the WHO statistics for 2015 was 76.3, or 89th in the world, while men’s was a sobering 64.7, placing them 127th on the list, between the Philippines and Mongolia. Select different radio buttons on the graph below to see comparisons with some other countries.