Category Archives: European demographics

13/7/19: Russian v European Dependency Ratios: 1950-2100

Doing some numbers crunching on a different project, I just came across this interesting database from the UN showing population projections through 2100. One interesting aspect of this data is the forecasts/projections for the dependency ratio - basically, a number of working age population per 100 people of non-working age.

There are caveats attached to the analysis of this data, including the changes in the duration of the working age (over the years, younger age dependency has moved toward 24 years from 19 years due to extended period spent in education, while for older age dependency, the mark has been moving from 64 years to 69 years as the last year in working age group). These caveats aside, here is a really eye-opening chart:

We consistently hear about the demographic catastrophe that has visited Russia since 1990-1991 collapse of the USSR. We are also constantly hearing the claim that the Russian society is demographically so challenged, it is running out of people. The chart above shows that, actually, that is not exactly true. Russia has been showing pretty decent readings on population dependency ratio compared to its peers ever since the mid-1970s. More so, through 2020, the estimates from the UN suggest that Russia is performing better than its peers in Europe in terms of overall dependency. This is expected to change - to the detriment of the Russian society and economy - in 2030-2040, but thereafter, Russia is expected to once again perform better than overall Europe.

Similar picture arises when one looks at more modern definition of dependency age ranges:

This data suggests that the popular narrative about the relative decline of Russian population dynamics compared to other European states is at least highly imperfect.

3/8/15: Europe as a Demographic Disaster

Here are the latest UN projections for population growth though 2100 (best viewed by clicking on the image to enlarge):


Of all major regions around the world: only three are likely to post negative population growth. These are:

  • Europe - posting the most disastrous, by a mile, demographic prospect of all regions;
  • Followed by Asia, where cumulated population decline will be less severe (through 2100) than in Europe; and
  • Finally, by Latin America.
Here is a table calculated by me based on the UN projections showing 30 countries with largest declines in population over 2 periods: 2015-2030 and 2015-2050:

I group these countries by a historical sub-regions as follows:
  • EU 
  • Former USSR excluding currently in the EU
Several striking observations emerge:
  • One hears quite frequently media comments about the disastrous situation with Russian demographics. Except: Russian Federation is not in 30 countries with worst population growth performance over 1950-2015 period, while its counterparts in the USSR - Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus are. Russia will be ranked 19th worst performing (demographically) country in 2015-2030 and 2015-2050 period. But compare this to Ukraine (to be ranked 4th in 2015-2030 period and 3rd in 2015-2050 period); Republic of Moldova (expected to rank 11th in 2015-2030 period and 4th in 2015-2050 period); Belarus (forecast to rank 12th in both periods); Georgia (ranked 20th in 2015-2030 period forecasts - better than Russia, but 15th in 2015-2050 forecast - worse than Russia). I have not heard much of 'disastrous policies' assessments in the media concerning their demographic collapse predictions.
  • Another interesting aspect of the table is the exceptionally poor forecasted performance in demographics for the Eastern European states members of the EU.
You can see the above point 2 from the table below that selects EU member states:

Just for comparative reminder: Russian population (the benchmark case for media-covered demographic disaster) is forecast to shrink by 10.4% between 2015 and 2050. Which is bad, but better than 10 out of 29 EU member states (not benchmarks, according to the media, of a demographic disaster).