May 22, 2006
THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF RUSSIA:
If present trends continue, the population of Russia will decline from 143 million to 100 million by 2050. Not only that, but by 2050, most of the population may be Moslem. Currently, about 15 percent of Russians are Moslem, and the average Moslem family has three or more children, while the average non-Moslem family has one or two. While Christian (largely Slavic) Russians have seen their numbers tumble, the Moslem population of Russia has grown over 40 percent since 1989 (from births, migration and conversions). There has also been a religious revival, with the number of mosques growing from under a thousand when the Soviet Union collapsed, to over 8,000 today. That means Moslem men drink a lot less, and live healthier, and longer, lives. . . .
The 70 years of communist rule was very damaging and demoralizing to most Russians, as it was to other nations that endured less of it in Eastern Europe. Prosperity and democracy have arrived in a fitful and threadbare state. Things are getting better, but that usually means that women have fewer children. It's been that way for thousands of years. The aristocrats were notorious for having small families, and the main reason was that the wealthy wives had better, and less arduous, things to do than pregnancy and child rearing. Because of that, Russia will probably have a larger Moslem minority by 2050, but not a majority, because even Moslem women have fewer children as they become educated and more affluent.