28 April 2009Demographic challenges – including short life expectancy and a shrinking population – must be faced to maintain Russia’s economic and social security, warns a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Demographic challenges – including short life expectancy and a shrinking population – must be faced to maintain Russia’s economic and social security, warns a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).According to the study, in the coming decades, the nation confronts accelerated population decrease; a dwindling of the working-age population; the general ageing of the population; the drop in number of potential mothers; a large immigrant influx; and a possible rise in emigration rates. “The mortality crisis is one of the clearest manifestations of Russia’s long-term demographic crisis,” the report warned, with the gap between Russia and other developed countries widening since 1964. Further, life expectancy for both sexes was shortest in Russia among 33 European nations, and Russia lags far behind both the United States and Japan.A two-pronged strategy is needed to reverse these trends, the new report said, calling for the promotion of active and healthy lifestyles on the one hand, and the adaptation of social services and institutions to the needs of the ageing population on the other.It also pointed to migration as a possible way to fill gaps and boost the workforce to support economic growth. In the past 16 years, nearly 6 million immigrants have come to Russia, but the study warned that for migration to be a truly effective solution, Russian society must adjust to accept the newcomers.