POPULATION: News Weekly
Russian life expectancy worse than Bangladesh's
, May 10, 2008
Russia's dwindling and debilitated workforce will be a formidable obstacle to Russian productivity and development.Russia's health and mortality situation is vastly worse than Western Europe's. Life expectancy for Russian men is astonishingly low, well below current levels in either Pakistan or Bangladesh. And trends have been moving in the wrong direction for decades. In 2005, male and female life expectancy at birth in Russia were both lower than they had been 40 years earlier...
Russia's working-age population is set for an even steeper decline. Between 2005 and 2030, Western Europe's working-age population - aged 15-64 - is projected to shrink by about 7%. In Russia, that figure is 19%....
But the problem is even more acute than these raw numbers might suggest. For Russia's mortality problem is concentrated in its working-age population. For over 40 years, Russia has been witness to a truly terrifying upsurge of illness and death precisely among those who ordinarily form the backbone of a modern economy. In 2005, for men between the ages of 27-57, death rates were typically 100% higher than they had been in 1965....
Russia's "excess mortality" threatens to straitjacket Russian productivity and development. It is true that Russia has enjoyed robust economic growth rates over the past several years, but this has primarily been generated by oil and gas exports.
In the modern world economy, a country's health profile is an essential element of its sustainable economic potential - quite arguably, the key element. How can Russia hope to be a vibrant modern economy with a dwindling and debilitated workforce and a life expectancy which is a full 12 years shorter than in Western Europe?
No modern society can expect to enjoy an Irish standard of living on an Indian survival schedule.- from Nicholas Eberstadt and Hans Groth, "Dying Russia", The Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2008.