Russia’s population decline more than doubles in 2020

Russia’s population decline has more than doubled in 2020, the latest sign of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the country, according to updated figures from Russia’s federal statistics agency seen by the Moscow Times.

Russia’s population stood at 146.05 million as of January 1, 2021, down from 146.75 million at the start of 2020, a decrease of 702,072 people.

The decline of more than 700,000 people exceeds previous estimates by Rosstat and marks the largest decline since 2005, when Russia’s population fell by 564,500.

According to calculations by the RBC news website, some of the hardest hit places were Russia‘s second largest city, Saint Petersburg, where the population shrank by a record 58 times, while the republic of Tatarstan experienced a drop of 72 times.

Russia has checked in some 475,000 excess deaths between the start of the pandemic and the end of April, the last month for which data is available, according to calculations by the Moscow Times. This is one of the highest figures in the world, both in aggregate and population-adjusted terms.

Rosstat previously attributed the decline to the sharp slowdown in migration stimulated by the pandemic. Russia is currently experiencing unprecedented labor shortages, with many migrant workers unable to enter Russia due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rosstat also said the decline was due to a drop in the birth rate linked to economic uncertainty, as Russia’s real disposable income fell to its lowest level in eight years.

According to government forecasts, the country will be able to achieve population growth rates no earlier than 2030. Rosstat predicted that the country’s population could drop by more than 12 million by 2035.