Russia is dying. In just the first week of Putin’s war, the country lost somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000 men, according to western sources, an immense and needless tragedy for the poor families left behind to grieve. …
In the average week the country loses another 2,000 through population decline, a rate that rose to 20,000 during Covid. But even in normal periods, Russia is now shrinking by more than 100,000 people a year and with no prospect of raising fertility above the 2.1 total fertility rate (children-per-woman) replacement threshold.
The incomprehensible thing about this war is that Russia is not a belligerent young nation in need of expansion; it is not filled with frustrated young men hoping to assert themselves in conflict, as with Syria, Afghanistan or the world’s other conflict zones; it is already elderly, ageing quickly and in some parts heading for oblivion. Some 20,000 Russian villages have been completely abandoned in recent years, and 36,000 others have fewer than ten inhabitants left and will follow them soon. A third of land once farmed in the former USSR has now been abandoned.
Ukraine could potentially have 750,000 troops under arms by July, compared to 200,000 for Russia.
If the Russians turn out to have no stomach for this fight, it will probably be for the simple fact that the country does not have enough men to spare. The majority of those poor young men killed for Russia’s honour will be their mother’s only son, in many cases their only child; this will make the impact of Putin’s crimes even more devastating for its victims.
For the same is true of Ukraine; indeed its rate of population decline is even worse. …
Older populations are more peaceful:
In recent years we have benefited from what has been termed the Pax Americana Geriatrica. Most wealthy countries have median ages of over 40, and middle-aged people don’t like starting fights. We have responsibilities and worries, our frontal-lobes have made us cautious, and our testosterone levels are in terminal decline.
In the 1930s, when Spain erupted into war, the median age was half of what it is now. In the early 1990s the median age in Bosnia was less than 30, while today it is over 40. When Lebanon’s civil war began the average Lebanese man would have been one of six children and three brothers. Today he is one of just two siblings. That is at least partly why recent political instability and financial crisis has not led to a repeat of the war.
[Paul] Morland [author of Tomorrow’s People] cites ‘studies of decade-long periods reveal[ing] that there is almost no civil war in countries where 55 per cent or more of the population is aged over thirty.’ …
Even Islam is demographically reforming, though later than most:
Europeans once expressed alarm about encroaching dominance by the world of Islam, but most Arab countries now have moderate if not low fertility.
Indeed, there appears to be the problem that, aside from a handful of nations like Sri Lanka, states go swiftly from unsustainable high fertility to worrying sub-replacement levels. Colombia spent barely a decade in the Goldilocks Zone, for instance, and is now at northern European levels. ….
In Russia, following the demographic collapse of the 1990s, when life expectancy plunged as the country was ransacked, things improved for many people under Putin. Since the start of the century, Russian fertility has risen from 1.2 to 1.75, but that is nowhere near enough to reverse the coming decline. …
But housing prices go through the roof:
Older people tend to vote for their own self-interests, and in the case of Britain, end up controlling the government in power; voters with pensions and homes opt for lower growth and restricted housebuilding, further raising the cost of home ownership for the young and so pushing down the fertility rate still further. If we’re playing a generational blame game for the lack of children…
Two hundred years ago humans first started to break through the Malthusian barrier. Prior to that, all human populations everywhere and except for brief periods, were limited by food supply. Hunger was rife. But tech breakthroughs due to an emergence of many genius inventors (predominately white men) allowed technology to get ahead of mouths for the first time. We are still ahead, and history — and the pattern of wars — is still adjusting.