I developed a model on Russia’s future demographic development in Matlab. First, I will describe (non-mathematically) the essentials of how it works; then I will present a range of different possible scenarios. Our data is sourced from Rosstat and the Human Mortality Database.
Demography is a social science, and as such it is impossible to make any precise predictions. As such the strategy we will use is to present four different scenarios, which include Stagnation, Low Improvement, Medium Improvement and High Improvement. (The Transformation scenario I was thinking of doing would have involved some rather complicated math and as such I leave it to a later date). They will be described below. First, an examination of basic concepts.
The biggest single factor by far in this model are future fertility trends. It basically determines whether the population will go up or down (improvements in mortality statistics only postpone, not alter, underlying trends). The fertility rate itself is the amount of children in any given year a woman could be expected to have, calculated by adding up age-specific birth rates. The amount required for long-term population stability is 2.1 children per woman (because in most countries slightly more boys are born than girls).
Mortality trends are more useful for ascertaining things such as future dependency ratios, which are important from an economics perspective (assuming the retirement age remains constant). It can also be argued that it is an ethical responsibility of society to maximize the (healthy and fulfilling) longevity of its citizens’ lives. The life expectancy is how long a person can expect to live based on the age-specific mortality indicators of the year in question.
Net immigration, in Russia as in many other countries, typically consists of bringing in masses of young workers which help boost the percentage of working-age people within a population. Its merits are debateable. While they certainly put in more than they take out, they can also cause social unrest and lower overall productivity (if they’re uneducated cheap labor). As such, in my opinion the Japanese method of substitituting capital for labor on the factory floor (it has more than a third of the world’s stock of industrial robots) is generally smarter than importing a diverse mob of car-burners (although perhaps I have an insufficient appreciation of the spiritual benefits of multiculturalism). Digressions aside, it is clear that after a relative migratory drought in the early to mid 2000′s that followed the huge influx of ethnic Russians from the Near Abroad, economic progress and impending labor shortages are drawing a new tide of migrants, and this time many more of them are non-Slavic Central Asians and Caucasians (a total of 287,000 in 2007, probably with many more not covered by the statistics).
With an understanding of the basics, we can now reveal our first scenario.