Russia needs more people – Putin
Russia’s population of 146 million people is not enough to fill the nation’s sprawling territory, which covers more than 17 million square kilometers, President Vladimir Putin has said, commenting on a series of demographic issues he said his country is facing, including a recent rise in mortality.
Speaking to journalists as part of his annual press conference on Thursday, the Russian leader touched upon the decrease in life expectancy that came as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that the average age at which people died was 71.5 last year and fell to 70.1 this year.
“From both a humanitarian and geopolitical perspective, bearing in mind the people of the country – 146 million for such a vast territory is absolutely insufficient,” the head of state said.
Putin said that this figure is also a disadvantage economically as the country does not have enough manpower for its labor force. “We now have around 81 million people of working age,” he noted. “We have to seriously increase that by 2024 and 2030. It's one of the factors of economic growth.”
The Russian leader also stressed that increasing labor productivity is one of the country’s most important issues. He said there is a “whole set of programs,” ranging from education, to digitalization, to health care, with almost all of them drawn up. He also said that it is important “to organize this work competently and achieve maximum return on each ruble invested in solving these problems.”
Putin’s remarks come after Russia registered its largest annual population decline in 15 years. In January, Rosstat, the official government statistics service, disclosed that the number of people living in the country dropped by 510,000 in just 12 months amid the Covid-19 pandemic, falling birth rate, and less immigration.
However, in March, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said that Russia’s population was showing signs of emerging from a long-running decline. “If, in 2019, the decline in the rate of births was around 8%, then in 2020, that figure is already down to 3%,” she revealed. The number of women having abortions, she said, had declined by around 40%, and more mothers were carrying their babies to term.