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Demographic development in Russia in 2005-2015 in the context of long-term trends

Priority areas of development: sociology
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Subject of the study: Modern and prospective demographic situation in Russia, long-term trends in the major demographic processes - fertility, mortality, migration, changes in population size and in structural characteristics of the population - and the possible impacts of demographic changes on economic and social development of the country.

Goal of the research: Comprehensive study of specific features in  Russia’s demographic trends in last decade within the context of the current state social and family policy and long-term demographic changes in human reproduction and in the spatial distribution of the population.

Methodology.  The methodological basis of the research is the Demographic Transition theory, including its more detailed specifications ("epidemiological transition", "second" and "third" demographic transitions). We use and develop  ideas about the demographic transition as a modernization of the specific demographic system, which, in turn, is seen against the background of economic and socio-cultural changes that demonstrate universal as well as nationally specific nature. This approach provides a basis for understanding the demographic shifts of recent decades both in view of global trends and the country specific development in Russia and the former Soviet Union in the twentieth century during the Soviet and post-Soviet periods, and opens the way to understanding the demographic and socio-economic prospects of the country and its regions.

In this study, classical methods of statistical and demographic analysis are widely used: the system of general and specific rates and indicators to estimate the intensity of demographic events, life tables, including life tables by cause of death, fertility tables by birth order, the characteristics of the quantum and timing for births, marriages, divorces abortions and some other socio-demographic events.

Of important methodological significance in the analysis and prediction of the demographic changes is a cohort approach, which not only provides a clearer understanding of the historical societal and demographic changes, but also allows to distinguish long-term changes from temporal, conjectural fluctuations of demographic indicators.

Empirical base of the study. This study is based on:

  • Official statistical data provided by ROSSTAT, including the results of All-Russia Population Censuses and Microcensuses; detailed data from the annual vital and migration statistics reports, the annual estimates of population size and age and sex composition of population, results of population projections, results of representative sample surveys such as “Reproductive Health Survey”, “Employment Survey” and some others;
  • statistical data provided by Russia’s Federal Ministries and Agencies: Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ministry of Labour, Social Insurance Fund, Pension Fund;
  • International comparative data of the sample surveys carried out in Russia, in particular, data from three waves of the panel study "Parents and children, men and women in family and society"/RusGGS (2004, 2007 and 2011); “Reproductive health survey” (2012);
  • Data from National sample surveys, in particular, “Individual, Family, and Society” (RANEPA, 2013), “Analysis of the labor market situation in the Russian Federation for the effective employment of migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan” (2016) and some others.
  • HSE IDEM Demographic Database that has been created and is supported by  Institute of Demography of Higher School of Economics, and which contains long series of data for Russia and 40 European and non-European developed countries;
  • International demographic databases: United Nations, WHO, OECD, EuroStat, Human Mortality Database, Human Fertility Database, “Comparative Family Policy Database”, “Population and Policy Database”, INED Demographic Database and others;

Key results of the research include:

  • Characteristics of the current Russia’s demographic situation within the context of long-term demographic trends in Russia and in the developed countries with the identification of universal and specific features of the more recent trends in the last decade;
  • Analytical characteristics of all componentsof thepopulation size changes in Russian Federationand its regions, changesin the spatial distribution ofthe Russia’s populationand itsurban and ruralcomponentson the basisof longtime seriesof vital statistics and migration data;
  • Analytical characteristics ofthe latest trendsin family formation and dissolution of marital unions and non-marital partnershipsin Russiain the context of international experience and different patterns in developed countries;
  • Updated results of analysis of trends in period and cohort fertility indicators and structural characteristics of fertility, and response of statistical indicators of fertility to the pronatalist policy interventions in Russia;
  • Analytical review of the situation in family planning and prevalence of abortion in Russia in comparison with other countries;
  • Findings of an in-depth analysis of the long-term and short-term changes in mortality and life expectancy in Russia, evaluation of contribution of specific age groups and specific causes of deaths to these processes within the wider international context;
  • Inclusion to the national and international academic information turnover of new data relating to international and internal migration in Russia, including data on labor migrants;
  • Evaluation of the existing system of state support for families and migration policies in Russia within the historical and international experience context;
  • Analysis of the past and latest demographic projections for Russia, proposed by ROSSTAT and the United Nations.

Implementation of the results.In 2016, the results of research studies conducted by HSE IDEM in the field of demographic analysis and projections were used by ROSSTAT in the refinement of the official demographic projections for the period up to 2050. The results of the studies are used at a regular base by the Presidential Administration, Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Interior Affairs, and Ministry of Public Health to develop the socio-demographic, family and migration policies. Methodological approaches that have been developed in this project are actively used by Rosstat, in order to improve the statistical monitoring of demographic and migration processes, assessments of the indicators characterizing the demographic situation and its change, in the analysis of the results of the National Population Census, Micro-Censuses and national socio-demographic sample surveys.

International demographic database, supported by HSE IDEM which is actively used in this study is freely available on the Internet and is widely used at all levels of the Russian government, for scientific and educational purposes as well as in the electronic and print media in Russia and abroad.

The results were presented at international conferences, including the European Population Conference» (Mainz, Germany, August 31 – September 3, 2016); HSE XVIIth April International Conference on problems of economic and social development (19-22 April 2016); International Conference "Maternity and paternity through the prism of time and cultures", (Smolensk, Russia, 13-16 October 2016); International Valday Discussion Club (Sochi, 24-27 October, 2016); 16th International Alexsanteri Conference “Life and Death in Russia” (Helsinki, Finland, 26-28 October 2016), and some others. They will be well represented at the forthcoming meetings.

The research results have been used as part of a large international project «Fertility and Family Policies in Central and Eastern Europe» with the participation of representatives from more than 20 countries, performed under the coordination of the University of Oxford (UK) (See: Fertility and Family Policies in Central and Eastern Europe after 1990 // Comparative Population Studies. 2016. Vol. 41. No. 1. P. 3-56.) The results are regularly published in scientific domestic and foreign journals, and in particular, in the ‘Demographic Review’ Journal (https://demreview.hse.ru) and in electronic periodical ‘Demoscope-Weekly’(http://demoscope.ru ) both published by HSE IDEM.

The most detailed results of the study will be published in the book "The Population of Russia 2015" (HSE Publishers, 2017).

The results of the study are reflected in the teaching activities, including "Demography," "Population and Development" master's programs in HSE, and in the short-term international courses for advanced demographic analysis and socio-economic development, organized with the support of UNFPA for administrations, state statistics officers, experts and researchers in population studies,  employees of international organizations from the CIS countries (September 2016).

Area of application

The results of the study are recommended for use:

  • in the activities of the executive branches on the federal and regional level to improve the depth and quality of monitoring demographic processes, to improve the system of criteria and indicators used to characterize the population and analyze the effectiveness of public policy;
  • in the work of the supreme bodies of state administration, ministries and departments responsible for the strategic development of family, health and migration policies;
  • to improve the content of educational socio-demographic programs for bachelor and master students in HSE and in other secondary and higher education establishments in Russia, and in universities in CIS and Euro-Asian Countries. 


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