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How Russia’s population changed over the years

Key facts about Russia's population since the year 1897

MOSCOW, January 24. /TASS/. The Russian Federal State Statistics Service has published the preliminary data concerning Russia’s population in 2018. As of January 1, 2019, Russia’s population reached 146.794 million people, which shows a decrease by 86,000 people compared to last year. In the last 10 years, this is the first recorded decrease of the Russian population. TASS has prepared an overview of how the Russian population had changed over the years.

Tsarist Russia

The first comprehensive population census in Russia took place in 1897. According to the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, the population of the territory that is now considered the Russian Federation constituted 67.5 million people, and by 1914, it had reached 89.9 million. The First World War slowed down the natural population growth; however, it had not stopped completely, with the population reaching 91 million people in 1917.

The Soviet Union

According to the 1926 census, there were 100 million 891 thousand people living on the territory of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (the Russian Statistics Service provides a figure of 92.7 million people, as several regions that were considered part of the Russian Soviet Republic at the time were later integrated into other republics). Up until the start of the Second World War, the population had been growing steadily, reaching 108 million 379 thousand people by 1939.

The demographics of the Soviet Union suffered the first serious blow during the Second World War. According to the Soviet state commission on estimating the number of casualties in the war, about 25.3 million people born before June 22, 1941 died between 1941 and 1945. To this estimate, the experts added about 1.3 million children born during the war, who died prematurely. In total, according to data published in the All-Russian Memorial Book (1941-1945), the Soviet Union lost about 26.6 million people in the war. According to the Russian historian Viktor Zemskov, the direct human loss of life in the Soviet Union came up to 16 million people.

According to the Russian Federal Statistics Service, the population of the Russian Soviet Republic reached 97 million 457 thousand people in 1946, and only came up to 100 million by 1949.

According to the first post-war population census of 1959, 117 million 534 thousand people lived in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. In 1970, the population came up to 130 million 79 thousand people, and in 1979, it reached 137 million 551 thousand. Despite the continued natural growth of the population (600-700 thousand people every year), the second half of the 1970s saw a demographic crisis, as the population born in the 1940s was now reaching adulthood. By 1980-1981, the fertility rate in the Russian Soviet Republic had decreased compared to the previous decade (in 1970-1971, the fertility rate reached 2.0) and came up to 1.895. The so-called demographic echo of the Second World War was among the factors influencing the demographic situation, along with urbanization, increased number of divorces and abortions, as well as high mortality rate among the male population due to alcoholism.

However, in the 1980s, the Russian demographic situation remained stable: by 1987, the fertility rate reached 2.23, and the population kept growing by 1-1.2 million people each year.

According to the last all-Soviet population census of 1989, the population of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic reached 147 million 401 thousand people.

Modern Russia

The 1990s saw another demographic crisis in Russia due to the so-called "second echo" of the Second World War, as the children born in the 1970s were reaching adulthood. Other factors influencing the crisis were the fall of the Soviet Union and the economic and social crises related to it. In the 1990s, the mortality rate in Russia was 1.5 higher than the fertility rate. The year 1992 marked the first year since the Second World War when the Russian population saw a decrease. At that point, 148.3 million people were living in Russia.

According to the Russian Federal Statistics Service, the Russian population decreased by 2.1% in the period from 1991 to 2002, and reached 145.2 million people.

The demographic decline continued until 2009, with the population low coming up to 142.7 million people.

In 2010, the generation born in the 1980s started reaching adulthood, which facilitated the growth of the country’s population. According to the 2010 census, 142 million 857 thousand people lived in Russia. In 2014, the Russian population increased by 400 thousand people compared to 2013, reaching 143.7 million. In 2015, due to Crimea starting to form part of Russia, the Russian population came up to 146.5 million people. The year 2015 also saw the highest fertility rate (1.78). The positive dynamic maintained itself until 2018, with the latest data signifying a population decrease.