Guest Post: Speedbox – Populate or Perish

Newscorp.com.au recently posted a story about the declining population of Russia.  Whilst fundamentally true, I thought I would take a deeper look.

Immediately prior to the fall of the USSR in 1991, Russia’s population was 148.3m people with a fertility rate of 1.77.  Considering everything the Russian people had been through in the preceding years, this was a remarkable achievement and if nothing else, proves that sex resulting in children was never off the agenda for many Russians.

However, once the USSR fell, the emigration rate of ‘breeding stock’ (young women) and young men rose dramatically.  In addition, those remaining in Russia were unsure of their circumstances and consequently the fertility rate collapsed to a disastrous 1.20 by 1999.  With an official unemployment rate around 13%, it’s not hard to see why.

Of course, emigration from the former Soviet Union was not the sole cause of population decline. Unusually high mortality rates from preventable causes (e.g. alcoholism) plus extremely high induced abortion rates and the generally poor quality health system all played a substantial contributory role.

Yet surprisingly, the situation has improved in the past few years as the fertility birth rate slowly edges past 1.49 and all-person life expectancy has increased to 73 years but these figures, whilst better, have merely slowed the population decline.

The Russian Government have long been aware of the problem and in 2007 began a 10 year program of cash incentives for families to have children (or more children).  That program was subsequently extended to the end of 2021 and whilst it had some impact (particularly in 2012-2015), its overall success was relatively modest.  In order to boost the figures, the Government also offered cash to mothers who were no longer resident in Russia, but Russian born, to register their overseas born children as Russian citizens.

Immigration is often used as a tool to counter falling natural population growth and according to Statista, net immigration during the period from 1990 to 2020 has always been positive notwithstanding some wild swings.  Having said that, immigration from CIS nations is the dominant source with an average of approximately 250,000 net inbound per annum over the 30 year period.  Non-CIS immigrants are a tiny percentage of the total although South African farmers have been a recent notable (and successful) target of the Russian immigration program.

At 17 million square kilometres, but sparsely occupied, Russia’s failure to replenish the population is a long-term problem.  At the current rate of de-population, it’s estimated that by the turn of the century Russia will boast only 126m people and given its almost incalculable wealth in minerals and gas, not to mention vast areas of arable land, that may present a tempting target for an expansionist nation.

Even if not, population decline is usually accompanied by a decline in living standards which feeds discontent and Government struggles to placate a restive population.  It is not hard to imagine that continuing population decline may eventually present an existential threat to the nation as we know it if the trend is not arrested and reversed.

So, what to do?

In President Putin’s address to the Duma in 2020 he said that “Russia’s fate and its historical outlook depends on how many of us there are” and announced a number of initiatives including plans to increase the number of children being born in Russia from an average fertility rate of under 1.5 per to 1.7 within four years.

Larger welfare benefits will be paid for children aged three to seven in low-income families and free school meals will be provided for the first four years of school.  Although not yet announced, it is possible that Russia will follow Hungary by offering free fertility treatment to couples.  It remains to be seen whether Russia will also follow Hungary in offering Russian women a lifelong exemption from paying income tax after they have four children.  (Hungary also offers interest-free loans of $AU40,000 to young couples and that loan is cancelled once they have three children).

Despite everything, the Russian people have proved themselves to be remarkably resilient and although the population is declining, financial incentives are being are being offered to avoid implosion.  Perhaps the men will emulate their forebears and rise to the occasion with women seeking to re-establish the fertility rate of 2.9 set by their grandmothers in 1950.

Footnote: Whilst the Russian fertility rate of 1.49 is below the EU average (1.59) it was noted whilst preparing this post that several EU member states are below the Russian figure including Luxembourg (1.41), Spain (1.37), Italy (1.31), Cyprus (1.30) and Greece (1.27).  Ukraine’s fertility rate is also below Russia at 1.44 in 2020.

27 thoughts on “Guest Post: Speedbox – Populate or Perish”

  1. There are two paths to population growth; one good and one evil.
    It’s good to read that Putin loves his people and doesn’t hate them like the Western leaders and therefore he isn’t going to follow the evil globalist technique of importing massive amounts of foreigners to displace and destroy the local culture and the natives.


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  2. On a slightly different note about Russia, while going through YouTube, I regularly come across all manner of videos from Russia (by Russian individuals) and the thing I’ve noticed is that Russians overall appear to be very happy. This is in complete contrast to what is depicted by Western media, notably US media. By contrast, the US appears to be the world’s largest misery hole, with Europe not far behind.


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  3. Why do they think that small cash incentives are really going to make that much difference? Generally only the very poor think this is a great thing. Anyone else who can do basic mathematics is not swayed by such measures. Much better to reduce the cost of living, improve healthcare, education, reduce unemployment etc. Also, did the emigration of the Boere to Russia really take place? Last I read that they were only making visits to southern Russia to inspect the land.


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  4. Anecdotal, fwiw, but two young Russian ladies I’ve spoken to in recent years said it’s hard to find a good man in Russia. One managed to do so but they had to leave the country because he fell foul of the authorities. Another married a New Zealander and subsequently moved here.


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  5. By contrast, the US appears to be the world’s largest misery hole, with Europe not far behind

    @Bemused

    I think, though, that if instead of looking at the mass media – including the activist bloggers – you observed similar channels for the West as you do for the Russians, you’d find similar results.

    For example, I browse the flying community, the farming community, the cooking community (avoiding the loonie vegans and Vegos, natch), the woodworking and mechanical maintenance communities and many more (these are my main interests, these days) and, by and large, what I find are generally happy people offering to share the “tricks of the trade”, recipes, how to butcher a wallaby or service a Rotax…or just the photos and videos from a recent flight over somewhere interesting or lovely.

    What I’m trying to say is, if you just ignore the hobby-horses of the Woke (and stay out of the inner reaches of the Capital cities) Australians, Americans, Europeans are basically happy people living fulfilled lives and sharing their joy, for free, with anyone who cares to see.

    A bit “hello trees, hello sky”, I admit – and of course, at any time there’s a proportion doing it tough, but it really just as wrong to think of (eg) Australia as being characterised by whining man-bun wokerati as it was to think of us as sun-bronzed outback knockabout Aussies.

    The sun is shining today…


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  6. What I’m trying to say is, if you just ignore the hobby-horses of the Woke (and stay out of the inner reaches of the Capital cities) …

    The problem is it’s getting harder to ignore them, no matter where you live in the West, particularly for parents with children in school or university. The prog-left politicises every aspect of life, their march through the institutions is relentless and children are on the front line.


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  7. I think, though, that if instead of looking at the mass media – including the activist bloggers – you observed similar channels for the West as you do for the Russians, you’d find similar results.

    Indeed I do and yes, the mid-west of the US seems to be the far happiest of the lot. That said, even in such videos, you can see that things aren’t what they once were.


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  8. Roger says:
    February 2, 2022 at 8:54 am

    Jeez Roger, do you have a surreptitious link into my computer? I’ve already written a follow-up piece about ladies who find overseas partners. Watch our for ‘Love by Mail’ in a few days. 🙂


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  9. Jeez Roger, do you have a surreptitious link into my computer? I’ve already written a follow-up piece about ladies who find overseas partners. Watch our for ‘Love by Mail’ in a few days. ?

    😀

    The lady in question was certainly very happy with her NZ match, Speedy.

    They’ve since moved to North QLD because they love the heat! It’s like paradise for her.


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  10. One problem that could affect birth rates was housing. Our apartment was larger than average and about sixty square metres, small entry, small toilet, bathroom, kitchen, two small rooms for the kids and a lounge room slightly larger but also our bedroom complete with a sofa that converted to a double bed. Other families consisted of the grandparents, parents, and kids in smaller apartments so come winter time things get crowded. Putin mightn’t be liked, some people hate him, but he has lifted the living and accommodation standards from “Cannery Row” type depressing stuff to a far higher standard. Their pension payments are for everyone at retirement and based on qualifications so that in retirement an engineer would receive a much higher pension than a labourer and the recipient can continue working if they wish to do so. We could do well to emulate that method for it encourages people to be qualified rather than sit on their backsides and live on the dole all their lives until they qualify for a pension. Taxpayer dollars wasted much to the chagrin of the self funded who have paid all the taxes during a working life and get nothing in retirement.
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  11. Anecdotal, fwiw, but two young Russian ladies I’ve spoken to in recent years said it’s hard to find a good man in Russia.

    I recall reading something about high levels of alcoholism among men being part of the problem, but that was quite a while ago.


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  12. although South African farmers have been a recent notable (and successful) target of the Russian immigration program.

    They would be the South African farmers that Australia refused entry to, because they might be waaayysists?


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  13. Australia is fine the Libs and Labor have it all worked out. Import as many people as possible from wherever. Their culture, background and skills are irrelevant, the more the better. What’s left of Aussie culture is irrelevant as Aussies will just be a minority without any voice or power, as long as they work and pay their taxes they can go to hell.

    Remember the mantra of the enlightened ‘All people and cultures are fungible’.


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  14. Having said that, immigration from CIS nations is the dominant source with an average of approximately 250,000 net inbound per annum over the 30 year period.

    This migration is reflected in the Russian military, the majority of whose members are now of the Moslem faith. Given that Russia is nominally Christian Orthodox, and it hasn’t had the warmest of relationships with its southern neighbours (Chechnya for example), how this imbalance will play out in the future will be interesting.


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  15. I would move to Russia (though I’m not allowed to leave Australia).
    People seem unable to grasp that it’s far less communist than here, and given their history they’re more likely to spot and stop the Marxists unlike us who vote them into office.


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  16. I recall reading something about high levels of alcoholism among men being part of the problem, but that was quite a while ago.

    That did come up, Ivan.

    Also that Russian men want a good time but no commitments.

    A generalisation, but that was the lady’s experience.


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  17. A brilliantly constructed article, Speedbox — along with Tucker Carlson’s coverage of the Canadian truckers protest, the most interesting thing I have read anywhere in the media in the past week.

    Keep it coming!


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  18. Import as many people as possible from wherever. Their culture, background and skills are irrelevant

    I disagree. Any background or culture is fine specifically as long as it is not Christian, they are careful with this.


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  19. The Hungarian programme is intriguing. My understanding is that if a stable couple with at least one partner working full time, they get increasing levels of tax relief with every additional child they have. Apparently after having 4 kids, the parents pay very little tax at all.

    It’s interesting because it doesn’t incentivise welfare dependency – the parents have to be working to qualify – and you can’t claim if you’ve had 6 kids with 6 dads.


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  20. Roger says:
    February 2, 2022 at 5:49 pm
    Also that Russian men want a good time but no commitments. A generalisation, but that was the lady’s experience.

    Yes but a generalisation that is wide spread and has some validity. One of the issues for younger Russian/Ukrainian women is that since the fall of the USSR, the women have been free to travel, free to watch Euro TV and free to read the assorted magazines. The rollout of the internet obviously accelerated access to lifestyle, fashion etc. and unsurprisingly, the women see and want what their European and American counterparts have. Who can blame them?

    Then conversely the Russian/Ukrainian women who, it must be said, are generally attractive and definitely take good physical care of themselves and dress very well (not an ugg boot or tracky pants will ever be seen), are looking to their male suitors who may have a predisposition towards alcohol and may lack ambition. Again, and it is a generalisation, but some women may perceive that the local man will never be able to supply the ‘new’ standard of living because of his perceived shortfalls. Note that Russian/Ukrainian women are very family orientated so it is not just about them but the subsequent children.

    It isn’t that simple of course but I know for certain that this is a common complaint/outlook among a range of females.


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  21. Oh come on says:
    February 2, 2022 at 7:35 pm
    It’s interesting because it doesn’t incentivise welfare dependency – the parents have to be working to qualify – and you can’t claim if you’ve had 6 kids with 6 dads.

    Correct.


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  22. Dot says:
    February 2, 2022 at 10:04 pm

    Yes, the incentives are excellent and by the time you’ve had 3 then 4 kids, you would probably be looking for some financial respite. The impact on the fertility rate remains to be seen because the programs are relatively new (2019).


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  23. Didn’t Japan try similar tactics by bribing its citizens with free healthcare until the kids turned 18?

    Speaking for myself, I’m not having kids because I watch the news and I’ve read the Book of Revelations.


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  24. I recall reading something about high levels of alcoholism among men being part of the problem, but that was quite a while ago.
    I’m told it is the mission in life of Russian/Ukrainian women to drive their men to drink.


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