Sunday, October 15, 2006

Russia's Dying Population

It's no fun. Their declining population is causing empty towns and stagnant economic nongrowth. The Boston Globe:
Russia is the only major industrial nation that is losing population. Its people are succumbing to one of the world's fastest-growing AIDS epidemics, resurgent tuberculosis, rampant cardiovascular disease, alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, suicide, and the lethal effects of unchecked industrial pollution. In addition, abortions outpaced births last year by more than 100,000.
``nezhiloye" -- depopulated
Antonina Makarova, 78, spends her days watching news and soap operas in her peeling wooden dacha, the only inhabited structure in two lanes of sagging cottages that once were a village. Her nearest neighbor, 80-year-old Maria Belkova, lives in adjacent Sosnovitsy, population 2. But Belkova can't hear anymore, and all in all, Makarova finds the television better company. ``All the houses here were filled with people. There was a cheese factory. But now everyone else has died. God has taken care of them, and he's still making me suffer," Makarova said. ``Even the thieves have disappeared." The Tver region, along the upper reaches of the Volga River 130 miles north of Moscow, is dotted with more than 1,400 villages such as Kstinovo marked ``nezhiloye" -- depopulated. Since 1989, the number of people here has shrunk by about 250,000 to about 1.4 million, with deaths outnumbering births more than 2 to 1.

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