Russian Demographics: The Role of the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Christopher Hoeppler, McMaster University

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Abstract Communism is a political ideal that is often viewed negatively by democratic societies. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Federation has experienced a rising mortality rate. It is clear that the political turmoil of the country played a key role in the eventual demographics of Russia. Coinciding with the onset of democracy a number of factors including economics, lifestye, healthcare, and disease incidence have contributed to the decline in population. The current demographic state, underlying causes, and next steps will be explored within the paper.

Introduction The Russian Federation experienced a surge in death rates of almost 40 percent since 1992, with numbers rising from 11 to 15.5 per thousand (Bhattacharya et al., 2011). The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought with it many social, political, and economic changes that continue to affect Russia to this day. Although all countries progress along the demographic transition model differently, general trends are shown. Nonetheless, Russia appears to be experiencing a unique transition of its own. Each country experiences population decline for varying reasons, such as disease diffusion as experienced by Africa with the AIDS epidemic; others can be caused by societal advancements that lead to lower fertility rates.

Population decline was evident in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union, which is why it serves as an interesting case study. On the surface it is counterintuitive that the state of the country would worsen after the fall of the communist party; however it is likely that political turmoil was responsible for the onset of the demographic problem in Russia. A number of factors including economic, lifestyle, health care, and disease incidence have contributed to Russia’s decrease in population. The following discussion will assess Russia’s current demographic state, identify the underlying causes, and suggest logical next steps for Russia. 

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