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Russia’s Population Decline Hits 15-Year High – Preliminary Data

The coronavirus pandemic, restricted migration and falling birth rates contributed to this year's population decline. Alexander Scherbak / TASS

Russia’s population decline has set a 15-year record amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to preliminary government data cited by the RBC news website Thursday.

Russia’s population totaled 146.24 million as of Jan. 1, 2021, down from 146.75 million the previous year.

The 510,000-person decline is the largest since 2005, when Russia’s population dropped by 564,500 from the previous year. 

According to RBC, Russia saw record-setting 184,600 excess deaths between January and November, the latest available month. Excess mortality, or the difference between all deaths in 2020 compared to previous periods, is seen as the most reliable indicator of the Covid-19 pandemic’s true death toll.

Russia’s overall deaths in January-November 2020 neared 1.9 million, the highest count since the wildfire-hit year of 2010, RBC reported.

At the same time, birth rates declined by 4.4% from 1.36 million from January-November 2019 to 1.3 million in the same period of 2020.

The natural population decline of 574,800 last year was double the 285,800 decline recorded in 2019. 

Migration was unable to offset the decline after coronavirus border closures led to 86,100 arrivals in January-October 2020, or less than half of the 222,700 arrivals seen in the same period in 2019.

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