June 24, 2019

Putin wants more babies

Nobody does the KGB stare like Vladimir. Any questions? No? I didn't think so.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced plans to reverse Russia’s declining population.

In a major speech in the Duma, that was broadcast live to the nation, Putin says the government is going to spend $53 billion on initiatives to raise the birth rate and increase life expectancy.

These inititives he calls “demography projects”. The call comes as the result of statistics that show Russia’s population has fallen by 6 percent since the mid 1990’s.

Putin says “First, we expect the average life expectancy to reach 71 years.”

“Second, we expect to increase the birth rate by 25-30% in comparison to the 2006 birth rate.”

In his wide ranging speech on the economic and social state of Russia, Putin was big on rhetoric but small on detail.

Life expectancy can be increased by better health care, but that takes time and money.

The birth rate- that is another matter. Is Vladimir going to pay people to have babies? With a declining birthrate, Russia is not alone. In the western world birthrates have been declining for years.

The problem for Prime Minister Putin is that the middle and upper classes’ penchant for small families is likely to continue regardless of any state incentives.

Those that will ‘rise to the occasion’ so to speak are the working classes. Now there is nothing wrong with the working classes, but a population boom in that demogaphic is going to place a strain on the limited social services sector.

Putin’s two hour speech sounded more like an election campaign launch for next years Presidential Elections.

There were certainly plenty of promises, but no explanation of how Russia was going to pay for Putin’s vision of a strong Russia which doesn’t have to rely on the outside world. With inflation running at 9.5 percent and unemployment at 7.1 percent, the vast income from oil and gas exports is going to hit an economic black hole before it get lavished on the new hospitals, farm machinery, schools and museum’s he has promised.

There was one bit of political wisdom among the rhetoric though when Putin explained what happens to a weak country. “Let’s be frank – in the modern world, if you are weak, there is always someone who will come in and unequivocally recommend which way to go, what policy to conduct, what path to choose.” Well said Vladimir.