Russia is the largest country in the world, has few inhabitants in many of its regions and has taken an extensive approach to economic development, said Oleg Apolikhin. As a result, if it is unable to slow down or stop the current trend of depopulation, it risks collapsing in 20 to 30 years.
The chief reproductive health specialist at the Russian Ministry of Health says this makes demographic change not only a problem for society, but also a very powerful challenge for the country’s national security (profile.ru/society/health/ oleg-apolihin- esli-my-ne-ostanovim-depopulyaciju-strany-cherez-20-30-let-nas-zhdet-kollaps-871866 /).
The population is shrinking because deaths exceed births and the elderly form for the first time in Russia roughly the same share of the population as the younger ones. Because older people do not work and because the Russian economy depends on new inputs rather than greater efficiency, it weighs on the young and depresses the economy.
And young people are less and less inclined to have children as they are increasingly shaped by consumer psychology that makes them wonder what benefits them directly rather than indirectly in helping the country as a whole, says Apolikhin. Russian men have an even more depressive effect in this area than women.
In recent decades, the gap between sexual debut and marriage has widened and is now almost ten years old. During this decade, young Russians have sex but without any intention or desire to have children. Attitudes formed during this period also extend to married life, and people push back or even decide never to have children.
Russians start to become sexually active earlier and earlier, and they marry later. Therefore, even couples who want children have them much later. Over the period 1995-1999, the average age of mothers at the time of the appearance of a first child was 20.9 years. In 2015-2017, it had increased by more than five years to 26.1.
Among other things, this means that people have fewer years to have more children; and the likelihood that women or men will suffer from problems affecting their fertility only increases. Women over 35, for example, are not only less fertile overall, but they are also likely to suffer from more diseases that make pregnancy problematic.