The Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has promised the State Duma that he will invest in “demography projects”.  In a two and a half hour speech that many are claiming is a
signal that he intends to reclaim the country’s presidency, Putin stated that:

“According to
preliminary calculations, between 2011 and 2015 some 1.5 trillion roubles will
be invested in demography projects…First, we expect the average life expectancy
to reach 71 years. Second, we expect to increase the birth rate by 25 to 30 per
cent in comparison to the 2006 birth rate.”

1.5 trillion roubles apparently works out to be about ÂŁ33
billion and shows the seriousness which Russia’s leaders are treating the demographic
problems affecting that nation, problems that were highlighted by the early
results of the 2010 census and have already been discussed on this blog.

It is interesting to note that 2006 is taken as the benchmark
date where the birth rate increase will be measured from.  Why not take the recent census data as the
starting point?  An answer may be found in the
fact that according to the Population Reference Bureau’s 2006 Population Data
Sheet
, the Russian birth rate was around 10 births per 1000 people.  An increase of 25 – 30% on that number
would take the birth rate to around 12.5 – 13 births per 1000 people.  And what do you know?  According to the latest census data, the
current Russian birth rate is 12.6 births per 1000 people.  Thus, it seems that Prime Minister Putin’s
target has been reached without a rouble being spent!  That is the mark of a
successful politician – pick a target that has already been reached and then
throw lots of money at it and then point to the fact that you’ve reached your
target as proof that your policies work. 
However, on the other hand at least the average life expectancy target of 71
years has not yet been reached according to the latest census.  So, what will the money be spent on?

“Under the plan, the government
would build more affordable housing for families, promote a healthy lifestyle
and stop the country’s brain drain. Previous schemes have seen cash incentives
given to parents with two or more children to be spent on housing and education…He
promised to stem Russia’s population decline by supporting young families and
improving health care…”

Perhaps some of the money should be sent on ensuring that members of the Russian
Government attend the first international demographic summit being held in June
and organised by the World Congress of Families.  To sweeten the deal, the cost of sending
delegates will not be very high at all – in fact they won’t even have to leave
Moscow!

Of course, all of this means that Russia should be the case study par excellence
for those seeking a reduction in the Earth’s population.  Want to reduce the number of human beings on this Earth? Just follow Russia’s lead.  But don’t be surprised when you see its leaders trying to drag it in the opposite demographic direction.

Marcus Roberts was two years out of law school when he decided that practising law was no longer for him. He therefore went back to university and did his LLM while tutoring. He now teaches contract and...