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“Saving people” is no longer a priority

«Сбережение народа» больше не приоритет

Judging by recent statements of Vladimir Putin, the fight against the decline of the population of Russia is not the main objective of his policy.

The other day Putin, as usual, tried to demonstrate that keeps its finger on the pulse and knows about the scale of the reduction of the Russian population over the previous year. “260 thousand, I know almost every figure,” said the President during an interview with TASS.

And immediately tried to calm that worry is not particularly necessary, as the process is, say, objective: “now of child-bearing age have entered a small number of people in two drops: in 1943-44 and in the mid-nineties. These two lines imploded down the pit happened.”

Before analyzing the meaning of these words, it is necessary to note the circumstances under which they were spoken. We emphasize that they were made not out of the blue, and in the framework of the special project TASS “20 questions to Vladimir Putin”. Pay attention to the fact that the project seems hastily created just below the “popular vote” to amend the Constitution, in which, according to some political analysts, Putin will receive from the people a carte Blanche for further control of the country after 2024. That is, it is well thought out a “progress report” to the voter with the outline plans for the future.

And within the framework of this propaganda project, Putin said about the demographic “pit”.

For a start puncture of assistants to the President. Probably in a hurry they gave him the data about the loss not around 2019, and for ten months. “Mistake”, was released almost 60 thousand. According to Rosstat, the decline of Russia’s population for the entire 2019 was not 260 thousand, and 316,2 thousand people. But not only that inaccuracy.

To understand the importance Putin said, need to go back a quarter of a century ago and remember how addressed the issue of population decline in the “dashing nineties” the Russian liberal media and members of the then leadership of the country. The standard explanation was two. First, Russia’s population is shrinking just the same as in Western countries — and therefore, why bother? Secondly… Yes, you guessed it — “a demographic hole”.

The problem is that both explanations are for the most part were just above designed to reassure the public.

With regard to the first (“the West”), the Pro-government experts and politicians of the nineties, speaking about the decline in Russia, studiously avoided to give examples of those Western countries which have made successful attempts to reduce the population by introducing a specific socio-economic measures to support families with children. For example, in Sweden and in France after the introduction of the child allowance, which allowed parents tolerably well to contain the decline gave way to population growth. But such nuances of the demographic policy of some Western countries on the background of the catastrophic reduction of the number of Russians that took place because of the banal impoverishment of the people in those years, the Pro-government “demographers” prefer to keep quiet.

The leadership of Russia was then just to its own population. He had other, more important priorities — privatization, the creation of “an efficient owner” and the like. However, demographic statistics were horrible and we had to do something. Citizens had to somehow explain how it was that all of the 1980-ies when “scoop” had been a continuous increase in population, and from the beginning of a beneficial reform, there was a sharp, unthinkable in peacetime, the decline. Hence arose another, apparently more sophisticated, the explanation of the situation in this region — “a demographic hole”.

The idea is the following. During the great Patriotic war the population of the Soviet Union, particularly for men, declined dramatically. Accordingly, approximately 20-25 years of age (“generational step”), that is, in the beginning of 1960-ies in the USSR was supposed to usher in the age of childbearing very few generation. Further, theoretically, this “step” (aka “a demographic hole”) would be repeated in the first half of 1980-ies. However, nothing happened. Contrary to the theory of “demographic Yam” in the USSR in these years, there have been impressive population growth.

According to the statistical Yearbook “National economy of the USSR”, in 1981 the growth of the population of the RSFSR amounted to 712,3 thousand people, in 1982 — 823,8 thousand In 1984, the growth of the population of the Russian Federation amounted to 758,7 thousand; in 1985 another 749,8 million In 1986, with additional measures to increase the birth rate, taken in 1984-1985, improvement of psychological climate in the country in connection with the arrival of a promising new Secretary General of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev, the population growth of Russia has made the leap, reaching 987,9 million people. In 1987, the population of the Russian Federation has increased by 968,3 thousand

In other words, the example of the dynamics of population of Russia in 1980-e years, we have seen that the theory of the “demographic hole” that is bound to the events of the first half of 1940-ies, is not working. The answer to the question “why” is that it ignores, first, the natural ability of the population to reproduce after those or other socio-political disasters. Second, this theory ignores the positive impact of targeted socio-economic measures to improve the level and conditions of life of the people, which always leads to increased fertility and reduced mortality.

It should be noted that in the early 2000-ies, Vladimir Putin began to publicly argue with liberal supporters of the theory of “demographic Yam”, stressing precisely this: that the government support socio-economic orientation should help to remedy the situation.

The most famous of these measures was the so-called “maternity capital”, which is virtual is charged for each second and subsequent children. However, in reality it can only be used for very limited purposes — to the repayment of the mortgage loans, education of children or pension accumulation of mother (by investing these funds in the pension Fund, Vnesheconombank, or a private management company). Given that primary and secondary education we are still mostly free, and retirement savings for young mothers — are generally an abstraction, really means the camera can only partially repay a mortgage loan.

However, that most of the mortgages (if they even dare such a risky thing) and then attach netcapital will remain a burden on the shoulders of families with children, Russian propaganda prefers not to extend…

At first glance, if we compare the graphs of charging the shot and the situation with birth rate in Russia, we see a definite relationship between them. Since 2007, when they began to charge a shot, and until 2014, the decline in the population continuously declined, and in 2013-2015 took place it even in small gains. However, in 2016 the reduction in the size of the Russian population again begins to grow exponentially, reaching for some three years the level of “dashing nineties” and, incidentally, no less turbulent of the two thousandth. That is, the camera’s not helping.

Of course it is tempting to re-explain this “demographic pit”. And Putin, as we see, does so by adopting the reasoning so unloved people of liberal economists.

“We just have fewer people who are of child-bearing age are. The number of women aged 20 to 29 years decreased by 4.5 million people, that’s all. This objective data,” he says in the aforementioned interview with TASS.

However, this is again the argument from evil. View. Assuming that the current hole is the result of a sharp reduction of population of Russia in first half 1990-x years, in childbearing age, this generation came twenty years later in the first half of 2010-H. But, as noted above, it was at this time (2013-2015) accounts for the maximum growth of the birth rate in Russia.

However, affect is not so much the maternity capital, which, according to several reputable experts, in particular, for example, doctor of Economics Yevgeny Gontmakher, played largely an advocacy role, than the role of the real economic stimulus, and almost continuous growth of the revenues Russia received all these years due to high energy prices.

Of course, the greatest profit in Russia has received from this the main beneficiaries of the oil boom — the owners, top management of oil and gas companies and high officials. However, something in the form of some growth in wages and pensions inevitably redistributed to other broad categories of citizens.

The current decline in the birth rate in Russia is connected with the reduction of the oil rent after a fall in world prices for “black gold” in 2015.

Apparently Putin understands that this long-term process, because in the foreseeable future and the looming global depression, and a reduction in demand for oil because of the inevitable transition of the advanced countries in renewable energy. However, other sources of income of the Russian budget in addition to oil rents over the two decades of his reign in Russia and has not appeared. This means that in any way affect the reduction of natural population decline, he can not.

If you can not influence — think of an explanation. And here the theory of the “demographic pit” came in very handy. Objective process, you know…

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