Russian population falls, but migration helps

Russia’s population decreased by 93,500 or 0.06 percent in 2018 to 146.8 million as of Jan. 1 this year.

However, a 57.2 percent growth in migration helped offset the decline in the local population, according to Rosstat.

The number of newly born babies declined by 90,600 in 2018, while the number of deaths dropped by 6,600.

Nearly 109.5 million people lived in cities and towns, and more than 37.3 million people resided in the countryside as of the beginning of this year.

The demographic situation in Russia is worsening mainly due to the heavy losses during World War II and the economic hardship in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Rosstat forecast last year that the country’s population may reach 157 million by 2036 in the best-case scenario, but it may remain unchanged or drop to 137 million in the worst-case scenario.

The government has rolled out a set of measures, including financial support, to encourage births. It also welcomes nationals abroad to move back home.

Russia aims to boost its economy in the coming years, but it faces a gradual decline in population, which could translate into a labor shortage.

Last year, Russia adopted new legislation gradually extending the retirement age to 65 from 60 for men and to 60 from 55 for women starting in 2019.