Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Window on Eurasia: Moscow Said Failing to Combat ‘Superhigh’ Mortality among Men

Paul Goble

Vienna, April 25 – Moscow has attempted to address the Russian Federation’s demographic crisis by seeking to promote an increase in birthrates among Russians, but it has “no programs” to combat the “superhigh” mortality rates among working age men, according to one of Russia’s leading demographers.
In an interview posted on the portal yesterday, Yuriy Krupnov, the director of the Moscow Institute of Demography, Migration and Regional Development, said that even the consequences of the government’s pro-natalist policies were being overstated (
Recently, Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov proclaimed that the recent increase in birthrates is the result of Moscow’s policies, but that is not in fact the case, Krupnov said, however welcome any boost for the population of the Russian Federation may be.
Instead, he argued, the small uptick in birthrates over the last year is the result of the “children of perestroika” – those born between 1985 and 1988 – reaching childbearing age. Because they outnumbered both those born just before that period and just after it, this cohort is having more children even if fertility rates are not higher.
But Krupnov was more critical of the government’s failure to reduce mortality especially among working age men, something that has plagued Russia for the last generation and that currently threatens both the growth of its economy and the stability of its society.
At present, Krupnov stressed, “there are simply no programs for lowering morality -- or more properly, super-mortality -- in Russia at present.” Instead of doing something to counter this unfortunate trend, the government is simply having its statistical agencies keep count.
And those numbers are disturbing, even “tragic,” he said. Over the last seven years, he noted, mortality rates among working age men have “increased already more than 20 percent. [And] therefore there has been no improvement” in the demographic situation of the Russian Federation regardless of what some officials may claim.

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