Ageing in Russia: a Regional Appraisal

  • Stuart Gietel-BastenEmail author
  • Vladimir Mau
  • Warren Sanderson
  • Sergei Scherbov
  • Sergey Shulgin


Russia, in common with most industrial and post-industrial countries, is currently grappling with the challenge of population ageing. While there have been many studies of ageing at the national level, the regional differentials and consequences of such population change have been largely ignored for Russia, as indeed for elsewhere. In this study, we explore differentials in both the key drivers of ageing in Russia, as well as the outcome in both standard and ‘new’ demographic measures of ageing based upon the concept of ‘prospective ageing’. Our results show that the pace and scale of ageing – along with the nature of the underlying drivers – across Russia is highly uneven. Under a federal systems such as Russia, this means that the policy challenges related to population ageing will be differently felt at the regional level. On the flip side, any national policy intervention (such as raising the pension age) would have differential impacts across the country, and could well entrench existing regional inequalities.


Russia Ageing Mortality Regions 


Supplementary material

12062_2019_9238_MOESM1_ESM.docx (941 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 941 kb)


  1. Aasland, A., & Cook, L. (2016). EUROPP – Russia is facing a pension dilemma as the country goes to the polls. LSE EUROPP. Accessed 22 Jan 2019.
  2. Anderson, B. A., & Silver, B. D. (1997). Issues of data quality in assessing mortality trends and levels in the New Independent States. In J. L. Bobadilla, C. A. Costello, & F. Mitcell (Eds.), Premature death in the New Independent States (pp. 120–155). Washington DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  3. Andreev, E. (2012). On accuracy of Russia population censuses results and level of confidence in different sources of information. [in Russian]. Statistical Issues, 11, 21–35.Google Scholar
  4. Andreev, E., Hoffmann, R., Carlson, E., Shkolnikov, V., & Kharkova, T. L. (2009). Concentration of working-age mortality among manual workers in urban Latvia and Russia, 1970–1989. European Societies, 11(1), 161–185. Scholar
  5. Avdeev, A. (2001). The extent of the fertility decline in Russia: is the one-child family here to stay? Paper to be presented at the IUSSP Seminar on “International Perspectives on Low Fertility: trends, theories and policies”, Tokyo, March 21-23, 2001. IUSSP Working Group on Low Fertility and National Institute for Population and Social Security Research, Tokyo, Japan. Accessed 22 Jan 2019.
  6. Azarova, A., Irdam, D., Gugushvili, A., Fazekas, M., Scheiring, G., Horvat, P., Stefler, D., et al. (2017). The effect of rapid privatisation on mortality in mono-industrial towns in post-soviet Russia: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet Public Health, 2(5), e231–e238. Scholar
  7. Basten, S., Sobotka, T., & Zeman, K. (2014). Future fertility in low fertility countries. In W. Lutz, W. P. Butz, & K. C. Samir (Eds.), World population and human capital in the 21st century (pp. 39–146). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carlson, P. (2009). Commentary: Russia’s mortality crisis, alcohol and social transformation. International Journal of Epidemiology, 38(1), 156–157. Scholar
  9. Carlson, E., & Hoffmann, R. (2011). The state socialist mortality syndrome. Population Research and Policy Review, 30(3), 355–379. Scholar
  10. Chen, Y., Bouferguene, A., Shen, Y., & Al-Hussein, M. (2018). Difference analysis of regional population ageing from temporal and spatial perspectives: A case study in China. Regional Studies [Online EarlyView], July, 1–12.
  11. Cockerham, W.C. (1997). The social determinants of the decline of life expectancy in Russia and Eastern Europe: a lifestyle explanation. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38 (2): 117–130. Accessed 22 Jan 2019.
  12. Davies, A., & James, A. (2011). Geographies of ageing: Social processes and the spatial unevenness of population ageing. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Fedorov, L. (2002). Regional inequality and regional polarization in Russia, 1990–99. World Development, 30(3), 443–456. Scholar
  14. Florinskaya, Y. F., Mkrtchyan, N. V., Maleva, T. M., & Kirillova, M. K. (2015). Migration and labor market [In Russian]. Moscow: RANEPA.Google Scholar
  15. Frejka, T., & Gietel-Basten, S. (2016). Fertility and family policies in central and Eastern Europe after 1990. Comparative Population Studies, 41(1).Google Scholar
  16. Fuchs, V. R. (1984). Though much is taken: reflections on aging, health, and medical care. Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly: Health and Society, 62(2), 142–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gavrilova, N.S., & Gavrilov, L.A. (2009). Rapidly aging populations: Russia/Eastern Europe. In International handbook of population aging (pp. 113–31). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
  18. Geue, C., Briggs, A., Lewsey, J., & Lorgelly, P. (2014). Population ageing and healthcare expenditure projections: new evidence from a time to death approach. The European Journal of Health Economics, 15(8), 885–896. Scholar
  19. Gietel-Basten, S., Scherbov, S., & Sanderson, W. (2015). Remeasuring ageing in Southeast Asia. Asian Population Studies, 11(2), 191–210. Scholar
  20. Gietel-Basten, S., Scherbov, S., & Sanderson, W. (2016). Towards a Reconceptualising of population ageing in emerging markets. Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, 14, 041–066. Scholar
  21. Gorlin, Y.M., Lyashok, V.Y., & Maleva, T.M. (2018). Pension age increase: Positive effects and the possible risks. Economic Policy 1(pp. 148–79). Accessed 22 Jan 2019.
  22. Grigoriev, A., Lapteva, E., & Lynn, R. (2016). Regional differences in intelligence, infant mortality, stature and fertility in European Russia in the late nineteenth century. Intelligence, 55(March), 34–37. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Heleniak, T. (2003). Geographic aspects of population aging in the Russian Federation. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 44(5), 325–347. Scholar
  24. Hollander, D. 1997. In post-soviet Russia, fertility is on the decline; marriage and childbearing are occurring earlier. Family Planning Perspectives 29 (2), 92–94.
  25. Jackson, N. (2011). The demographic forces shaping New Zealand’s future. What population ageing [really] means (p. 1). Hamilton: NIDEA Working Papers.Google Scholar
  26. Jdanov, D. A., Scholz, R. D., & Shkolnikov, V. M. (2005). Official population statistics and the human mortality database estimates of populations aged 80+ in Germany and nine other European countries. Demographic Research, 13(14), 335–362. Scholar
  27. Leon, D. A., Chenet, L., Shkolnikov, V. M., Zakharov, S., Shapiro, J., Rakhmanova, G., Vassin, S., & McKee, M. (1997). Huge variation in Russian mortality rates 1984–94: Artefact, alcohol, or what? The Lancet, 350(9075), 383–388. Scholar
  28. Leon, D. A., Shkolnikov, V. M., McKee, M., Kiryanov, N., & Andreev, E. (2010). Alcohol increases circulatory disease mortality in Russia: acute and chronic effects or misattribution of cause? International Journal of Epidemiology, 39(5), 1279–1290. Scholar
  29. Makaryan, S. (2015). Estimation of international migration in post-soviet republics. International Migration 53(5) 26–46.
  30. Makhrova, A. G., & Kirillov, P. L. (2015). Seasonal fluctuations in population distribution within Moscow metropolitan area under travelling to second homes and labour commuting: approaches and estimations. [in Russian]. Regional Research, 1(47), 117–125.Google Scholar
  31. Makhrova, A., Nefedova, T., & Treyvish, A. (2012). Moscow: megapolis, agglomeration or megalopolis? Demoscope Weekly. Accessed 22 Jan 2019.
  32. Mäkinen, I.H., & Reitan, T.C. (2006). Continuity and change in Russian alcohol consumption from the tsars to transition. Social History, 31 (2). Routledge: 160–179.
  33. Men, T., Brennan, P., Boffetta, P., & Zaridze, D. (2003). Russian mortality trends for 1991–2001: analysis by cause and region. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 327(7421), 964–960. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Miljkovic, D., & Glazyrina, A. (2015). The impact of socio-economic policy on total fertility rate in Russia. Journal of Policy Modeling, 37(6), 961–73.
  35. Mkrtchyan, N. V. (2012). Issues of acquiring population in certain age groups during the census of 2010: The reasons for the deviations from the expected counts. [in Russian]. In M. D. Denisenko (Ed.), Demographic aspects of socio-economic development (pp. 197–214). Moscow: MAKS Press.Google Scholar
  36. Noguera, C.S., Martinez, S.M., & Safarova, G. (2014). Regional differences in population ageing in Spain (the case of the Valencian community). Budapest: Paper presented at 2014 European population conference.Google Scholar
  37. Perlman, F., & Bobak, M. (2008). Determinants of self rated health and mortality in Russia – Are they the same? International Journal for Equity in Health, 7(1), 19. Scholar
  38. Plavinski, S. L., Plavinskaya, S. I., & Klimov, A. N. (2003). Social factors and increase in mortality in Russia in the 1990s: prospective cohort study. BMJ, 326(7401), 1240–1242. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Popova, S., Rehm, J., Patra, J., & Zatonski, W. (2007). Comparing alcohol consumption in central and Eastern Europe to other European countries. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 42(5), 465–473. Scholar
  40. Pridemore, W.A. (2002). Vodka and violence: alcohol consumption and homicide rates in Russia. American Journal of Public Health, 92 (12): 1921–1930. Accessed 22 Jan 2019.
  41. RANEPA, Rosstat, and IIASA. (2016). Russian demographic data sheet 2016. Moscow: RANEPA, Rosstat and IIASA.Google Scholar
  42. Rivkin-Fish, M. (2003). Anthropology, demography, and the search for a critical analysis of fertility: Insights from Russia. American Anthropologist NB 2
  43. Safarova, G. (2011). Heterogeneity of Population Ageing in Russia and Policy Implications. In A. Hoff Population ageing in Central and Eastern Europe: societal and policy implications, edited by Andreas. Hoff, 53–78. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  44. Sanderson, W. C., & Scherbov, S. (2007). A new perspective on population aging. Demographic Research, 16(2), 27–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sanderson, W.C., & Scherbov, S. (2010). Remeasuring aging. Science, 329:1287–88.Google Scholar
  46. Sanderson, W. C., & Scherbov, S. (2013). The characteristics approach to the measurement of population aging. Population and Development Review, 39(4), 673–685. Scholar
  47. Sanderson, W.C., & Scherbov, S. (2015). Are we overly dependent on conventional dependency ratios? Population and Development Review, 41(4), 687–708.
  48. Scherbov, S., Sanderson, W.C., KC, S., & Lutz, W. (2014). Re-measuring twenty-first century population ageing. In World population and human capital in the twenty-first century (pp. 563–90). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Scherbov, S., Sanderson, W. C., & Gietel-Basten, S. (2016). Better way to measure ageing in East Asia that takes life expectancy into account. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 35(2), 139–142. Scholar
  50. Scholz, R.D. (2007). Verfahren Zur Korrektur Der Bevo¨lkerungsbesta¨nde Der Amtlichen Statistik Im Hohen Alter [In German]. 2007–002. MPIDR Working Paper. Rostock.Google Scholar
  51. Shkolnikov, V. M., Cornia, G. A., Leon, D. A., & Meslé, F. (1998). Causes of the Russian mortality crisis: evidence and interpretations. World Development, 26(11), 1995–2011. Scholar
  52. Shkolnikov, V., Kravdal, Ø., Valkonen, T., & Deev, A. D. (2004). Educational differentials in male mortality in Russia and northern Europe. Demographic Research, 10(January), 1–26. Scholar
  53. Shkolnikov, V. M., Andreev, E. M., Jasilionis, D., Leinsalu, M., Antonova, O. I., & McKee, M. (2006). The changing relation between education and life expectancy in central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 60(10), 875–881. Scholar
  54. Sobotka, T. (2004). Is lowest-low fertility in Europe explained by the postponement of childbearing? Population and Development Review, 30 (2), 195–220. Accessed 22 Jan 2019.
  55. Stuckler, D., King, L., & McKee, M. (2009). Mass privatisation and the post-communist mortality crisis: a cross-National Analysis. The Lancet, 373(9661), 399–407. Scholar
  56. Timonin, S., Danilova, I., Andreev, E., & Shkolnikov, V. M. (2017). Recent mortality trend reversal in Russia: are regions following the same tempo? European Journal of Population, 33, 733–763. Scholar
  57. Todd, M. A., Shkolnikov, V. M., & Goldman, N. (2016). Why are well-educated Muscovites more likely to survive? Understanding the biological pathways. Social Science & Medicine, 157(May), 138–147. Scholar
  58. Treml, V. (1997). Soviet and Russian Statistics on Alcohol Consumption and Abuse. In Premature Death in the New Independent States. Washington DC: National Academies Press (US). Accessed 22 Jan 2019.
  59. University of California Berkeley (USA), and Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Germany) (2013). Human Mortality Database. Accessed 22 Jan 2019.
  60. UNPD (2017). World population prospects: The 2017 Revision New York: UNPD.Google Scholar
  61. Vallin, J., Andreev, E., Meslé, F., & Shkolnikov, V. (2005). Geographical diversity of cause-of-death patterns and trends in Russia. Demographic Research, 12(13), 323–380. Scholar
  62. Walberg, P., McKee, M., Shkolnikov, V., Chenet, L., & Leon, D.A. (1998). Economic change, crime, and mortality crisis in Russia: regional analysis. BMJ, 317 (7154)., 318. Accessed 22 Jan 2019.
  63. World Bank (2016). World development indicators. Washington DC: World Bank Accessed 22 Jan 2019.
  64. Zakharov, S. V. (1994). Changes in spatial variation demographic indicators in Russia. In W. Lutz, S. Scherbov, & A. Volkov (Eds.), Demographic trends and patterns in the Soviet Union before 1991 (pp. 113–130). London and New York: IIASA/Routledge.Google Scholar
  65. Zakharov, S. (2008). Russian Federation: From the first to second demographic transition. Demographic Research, 19(July), 907–972. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Zakharov, S. V., & Ivanova, E. I. (1996). Regional fertility differentiation in Russia: 1959–1994 [in Russian]. Studies on Russian Economic Development, 7(4), 354–368.Google Scholar
  67. Zaridze, D., Maximovitch, D., Lazarev, A., Igitov, V., Boroda, A., Boreham, J., Boyle, P., Peto, R., & Boffetta, P. (2009). Alcohol poisoning is a main determinant of recent mortality trends in Russia: evidence from a detailed analysis of mortality statistics and autopsies. International Journal of Epidemiology, 38(1), 143–153. Scholar
  68. Zaridze, D., Lewington, S., Boroda, A., Scélo, G., Karpov, R., Lazarev, A., Konobeevskaya, I., et al. (2014). Alcohol and mortality in Russia: prospective observational study of 151000 adults. The Lancet, 383(9927), 1465–1473.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Social ScienceThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyKowloon, Hong Kong SARPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public AdministrationMoscowRussian Federation
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  4. 4.International Institute of Applied Systems AnalysisLaxenburgAustria

Personalised recommendations