11 May 2012

With or Without Putin, Russia is Slipping Away

One of Russia's biggest problems is that many of its best people are moving out, and they are being replaced by people who are -- shall we put it kindly -- sub-par. Unskilled workers from the republics are flowing into Russia, while its best trained and most skilled workers and professionals are finding their ways abroad.

Even worse, ethnic Russians who stay in Russia achieve fertility rates less than 1.5 child per woman -- even with pro-natal Kremlin policies -- while Chechen women maintain fertility rates well above 3 children per woman. Two thirds of births from ethnic Russian women are from women between the ages of 20 and 29 -- a part of the population that happens to be shrinking at this time. In less than 15 years, the number of Russian women in that age group are estimated to be reduced by almost 50%.

Russian women continue looking abroad for marriage, family, and child-raising, because -- frankly speaking -- Russian men are not reliable, and Russia is no place to raise a child.
What really matter are job security, crime-free cities, family life and health, and in all these yardsticks Russia is slipping. I won’t go into the dismal life expectancy for men or the crime stats, but Russia has a major problem. It is a real concern when wealthy Russians start packing up their bags and settle abroad.

For Russia, which boasts a highly educated and intellectual population with vast achievements in science and technology, it is dangerous to be so dependent on fossil fuels and minerals. Russia’s successful military and space programmes have yielded few known commercial spinoffs. More than 20 years after the Soviet Union dissolved, Russia doesn’t have a globally renowned consumer durables brand. _Indrus.in
The quality of Russian higher education, for the most part, is somewhat overstated. The severe brain drain of the post-collapse era left Russia's intelligentsia depleted, the brain drain continues.
Salaries and the terms of faculty appointments and promotion are central to the well-being of the academic profession and its contributions to the university. If salaries are inadequate, the “best and brightest” will not be attracted to academe...in a globalised world, salaries in one country affect academe elsewhere, as professors are tempted to move where remuneration and working conditions are best....Russia and the former Soviet states pay quite low salaries, even when their economies are relatively prosperous.....For academics in those countries with quite low salaries — such as China, Russia, Armenia or Ethiopia — the academic profession faces a crisis. _TheHindu
Not all Russian professors are worth hiring abroad -- just like many social science professors in the west are not worth hiring at all. But for those who are accomplished in science and technology, the temptation to migrate abroad can be overpowering.

Russia's economy has been pegged to its energy resources for decades. Now, Russia is trying to re-invent itself in terms of business and innovation. But doing so will be very difficult.
Russia’s reliance on the export of oil and natural gas and lack of integration into regional and global markets inhibit economic growth. Although Russia’s World Trade Organization accession this year will open the Russian economy to greater foreign trade and investment, there is not yet an effective strategy for economic development. The authors recommend a “twin-vector economic strategy” that simultaneously orients Russia’s economy toward the East and West, so that it can benefit from advanced technology and investment from both.

The most obvious constraint on Russia’s ability to pursue such a strategy [Outlook 2030] is its poor climate for business and investment, in particular the pervasive corruption that crops up at every level of state and society. In addition, the country’s underdeveloped public health system, relatively anemic middle class, continuing “brain drain” emigration and aging workforce will hinder Russia’s competitiveness and attractiveness for investment. Though “Outlook” avoids the “third rail” of Russian politics -- addressing official corruption at the top levels of government -- it recommends the Kremlin adopt policies to foster the growth of small business, eliminate excessive bureaucracy and even offer greater freedom and support for civil society. Putin has shown little enthusiasm in practice for such reforms... _Carnegie Endowment

Russian life expectancy continues to be horrendously low, for a nation that claims to be developed. Few Russian men live long enough to enjoy more than a year or two of vodka-sotted retirement. Heart disease, accidents, and violent crime take care of those that alcoholism, suicide, HIV, and drug resistant TB do not handle.

A more in depth look at Russia's demographic prospects (PDF)

The recent crash of Russia's first new airliner design in decades will not help build Russia's new reputation for world-class innovation. And the theft of military technology systems by China -- a growing competitor on second and third tier defense markets for Soviet era weapons systems -- does not help to keep Russian weapons and technology manufacturers in business.

Voters in Russia have never been taken seriously. Now that Putin has achieved "President For Life" status, there is no reason for the Kremlin to do more than give them lip service from now until the military machine rusts, the oil & gas wells give out, and the Russian ethnic demographic passes the point of no return.

Who wouldn't want to get out?

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Blogger Unknown said...

It is quite true that Russian women look for marriage abroad and often are ready to marry monkeys - most important that these would be foreign monkeys :-)

Saturday, 12 May, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

Speak for yourself!

....and pass the bananas!

Saturday, 12 May, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's more to this story, but dangit I just don't know what it is.

There's Something About Russia. That's the word. The place has churned out geniuses and work ethic for centuries. They deployed thousands of ICBM's. They went into space FIRST. They built the Hermitage, jet fighters, surface-to-air missiles and subway stations with chandeliers.

These are high-IQ activities! Not for dummies!

And ALSO they're mind-blowingly corrupt and institutionally asinine.

I just don't get it.

Maybe Russia is the "perfect storm" for how to kill an otherwise high-IQ country. Maybe they're an institutional and political example of how to turn what should be a golden people into lead.

Tuesday, 26 June, 2012  

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