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Putin decries Russia’s demographic crisis in state of nation speech

Russia's declining birth rate is a "direct threat" to the country's future, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday in his annual state of the nation speech.

Russia’s declining birth rate is a “direct threat” to the country’s future, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday in his annual state of the nation speech.

With a total fertility rate of fewer than two birth per woman, Russia is struggling to sustain its population of about 147 million people.

“The birth rate is again falling,” Putin said in the nationally televised speech to parliament members and other senior officials.

The total fertility rate is expected to amount to 1.7 per woman in 2024, Putin said.

Russia, geographically the world’s largest country, has the world’s ninth-largest population, behind Bangladesh.

Citing prolonged economic hardships as a significant obstacle to boosting the birth rate, Putin pledged to increase one-time benefits payments for newborns by the equivalent of several thousand dollars.

The economic turbulence that followed the end of the Soviet Union in the 1990s led to a birth rate that was lower than during World War II, Putin said.

In 1943, in the middle of World War II, the total fertility rate was 1.3 per woman, Putin said. In comparison, in 1999, it was only 1.16, he said.

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