“Falling fertility rates have been a feature of nearly every developed economy for several decades,” writes Norma Cohen (“Moscow Generals Also Fight Falling Birth Rate,” Opinion, June 25), as well as many developing countries, including large ones like China and smaller countries like Costa Rica.
While, as Cohen argues, “the population effects of a long war of attrition – the emigration of Russian nationals, the suppression of the birth rate due to political uncertainty, and the dwindling number of new immigrants – create additional problems for the long-term future of the armed forces”, a successful rearrangement of Russia’s western border will temporarily alleviate Putin’s demographic problem.
With the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia added 2 million people to its population, increasing its labor force by 1.5%, assuming normal participation rates. A possible annexation of Donbass – comprising the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk – with a pre-war population of around 4.5 million, will also increase Russia’s post-war workforce, while potentially increasing its armed forces.
Hopefully China, with a similar problem, doesn’t follow a similar course of action.
Emeritus Professor of Economics and Finance, Montclair State University Upper Montclair, NJ, USA