May 5, 2009
Tune in: Online radio show on Russia’s population in peril

Environmentalists and others may balk at the world’s rapid population growth, as the global population is expected to surpass 9 billion by 2050 — but in Russia, the opposite is true.

Facing dual threats of low birth rates and soaring mortality rates, the Russian population is aging and dying, according to a recent report from the United Nations Development Programme.

Life expectancy in Russia is some 12 years less than life expectancy in the U.S. Russia lost more than 12 million people over the last 16 years, and may lose another 11 million by 2025.

In an effort to combat the trend, the Kremlin has launched a pro-natalist campaign, expanding maternity leave benefits and offering financial incentives to mothers with more than one child.

The population decline has also impacted Russia’s national discussions on reproduction and abortion.’s weekly radio show explored the factors driving Russia’s population decline and its implications for Russian society and public policy.

Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge hosted a panel of guests:

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia and blogs at “Window on Eurasia.” Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Previously, he worked in various capacities at the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau, as well as at the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has been decorated by the governments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for his work in promoting Baltic independence.

Vladimir Lenskiy is the New York bureau chief and correspondent for Russia’s Channel One television, the country’s oldest and largest television network with an audience of 100 million viewers throughout Russia and Eastern Europe. He has over a decade of experience as a reporter for Russia’s independent national television networks, including NTV (Nezavisimoye Televideniye), TVS and TV-6, a Moscow-based independent channel.

Louisa Vinton is a senior program manager at the United Nations Development Program’s Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, where she is responsible for UNDP activities in seven countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Previously, Louisa worked for the Economist Intelligence Unit and as a senior research analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user eurutuf under a Creative Commons license.

Host: Martin Savidge
Producers: Nicole E. Foster, Katie Combs and Bijan Rezvani

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