Russia's Pressing Domestic Issues

Patricia Herlihy, professor history emerita, Brown University

In this video clip, Professor Patricia Herlihy speaks about Russia's demographic crisis and its implications. The decline in life expectancy for Russia men is surprising, even shocking.

Not only has life expectancy declined, the birth rates have dropped as well. Unsure of a secure future, many Russians are simply not having children. In response, the government has begun paying the equivalent of US $9,200 to women who have more than one child.

Pushing back against the perceptions of a Russia facing a crisis, on September 13, 2010 Vladimir Putin told representatives of the WHO in Moscow that Russia demographics were back moving in the right direction. “The trend is obvious, it’s positive. I don’t have any doubts that this process will develop further.”

I’m not so sure.

What are the implications for the future of Russia and its role in the world?

Herlihy worked with Choices to produce Russia’s Transformation: Challenges for U.S. Policy, a curriculum for high school students that helps them consider how events in Russia in the post Soviet era affect U.S.-Russian relations.