Demography of Russia and the Former Soviet Union

Sociology SOCI 20182

Instructors: Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D., Dr. Natalia Gavrilova, Ph.D.
Center on Aging, NORC/University of Chicago
Telephone: 773-256-6359
Lectures: Monday - Wednesday, 3:00-4:20


There is no required textbook. Lectures will be based on original publications by Russian demographers. In addition to that, a list of supplemental reading in English will be provided before the lecture.

Recommended books:

DaVanzo, J.and C.A. Grammich. 2001. Dire Demographics. Population Trends in the Russian Federation. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. Available online.

Demko G., Ioffe G., Zayonchkovskaya, Z. (eds.) 1999. Population under duress: the geodemography of post-Soviet Russia. Westview Press. Available online through Google books.

Ruling Russia: Law, Crime, and Justice in a Changing Society, edited by W.A. Pridemore. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield Publ., Inc., 2005

Methods of demographic analysis are described in the following textbook:
Preston, S.H., Heuveline P., Guillot M. 2001. Demography. Blackwell Publishers.

Additional reading on Soviet and post-Soviet history:
Riasanovsky, N., Steinberg, M. 2004. The History of Russia: Since 1855. Oxford University Press.

Additional recommended reading will be provided before each lecture. Some of the recommended articles could be found at our website:


Course Requirements and Grading:

All students are required to attend.

Every student will prepare a brief presentation for one of the topics proposed on the schedule.  A sign-up sheet with the choice of topics will be circulated. The duration of presentation is 15 minutes followed by discussion. At least three references on the topic should be provided. Presentations will start in May.

There will be one in-class exam with ten multiple-choice questions on the topics described in the lectures.

The course grade will be based on attendance (20%), participation in the class (15%), presentation on assigned topic (30%) and final exam (35%).


March 31. Lecture #1.  Introductory lecture. Overview of the past and present history of Russia.

Basic demographic measures and sources

April 2. Lecture #2
History of Russia since 1985.  Gorbachev's perestroyka.  Yeltsin's market reforms. The rise of Putin.  Current socio-economic situation in Russia.

April 7. Lecture #3
Basic population concepts. Population number and population distribution.  Population growth: rates and components. Depopulation. Population structure and its types.  Population pyramid.  Population structure by marital status, urban/rural status, education status and ethnicity. Synthetic and real cohorts.  
Supplement: Bulding demographic pyramid using Excel

:  Anderson, B. 2002. "Russia faces depopulation? Dynamics of population decline," Population and Environment 23(5): 437-64.

April 9. Lecture #4 
Sources of data about population. Population censuses. Statistics of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. Migration statistics. Population surveys. Health statistics.
Where to find data on population?  Please visit a webpage on population data resources
Population changes in the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1959.  Brief overview.

   1. Dominique Arel. Demography and Politics in the First Post-Soviet Censuses: Mistrusted State, Contested Identities. Population (English Edition, 2002-), Vol. 57, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 2002), pp. 801-827
   2. Jacques Vallin, France Mesle, Serguei Adamets, Serhii Pyrozhkov. A New Estimate of Ukrainian Population Losses during the Crises of the 1930s and 1940s. Population Studies, Vol. 56, No. 3 (Nov., 2002), pp. 249-264

Fertility and family in Russia

April 14. Lecture #5
Fertility measures and concepts. Theories of demographic transition. Factors affecting fertility. Structure and types of reproductive behavior. Demographic transition in Russia and its specifics.  Supplements: (1) Calculation of TFR and NRR (Excel file).  (2) TFR for 15 countries of the Former Soviet Union (Excel file).
   1. Tomas Sobotka. Re-Emerging Diversity: Rapid Fertility Changes in Central and Eastern Europe after the Collapse of the Communist Regimes. Population (English Edition), Vol. 58, No. 4/5 (Jul. - Oct., 2003), pp. 451-485. 
   2. Alexandre Avdeev, Alain Monnier. A Survey of Modern Russian Fertility. Population: An English Selection, Vol. 7, (1995), pp. 1-38.  
   3. Magali Barbieri, Alain Blum, Elena Dolkigh, Amon Ergashev. Nuptiality, Fertility, Use of Contraception, and Family Policies in Uzbekistan. Population Studies, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 69-88.

April 16. Lecture #6
Population Association of America Meeting. Lecture will be transferred to another date.

April 21. Lecture #6-7
Trends in fertility and natural increase. Quantitative estimates of reproductive norms. Reproductive health of Russian women. Abortions in Russia. Past and current trends in marriage and divorce rates. Studies of family in the Soviet Union and Russia. 
  1. Alexandre Avdeev, Alain Monnier. Marriage in Russia: A Complex Phenomenon Poorly Understood. Population: An English Selection, Vol. 12, (2000), pp. 7-49
  2. Alexandre Avdeev, Alain Blum, Irina Troitskaya. The History of Abortion Statistics in Russia and the USSR from 1900 to 1991. Population: An English Selection, Vol. 7, (1995), pp. 39-66
   3. Barbara Entwisle, Polina Kozyreva. New Estimates of Induced Abortion in Russia. Studies in Family Planning, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Mar., 1997), pp. 14-23
   4. Cynthia Buckley, Jennifer Barrett, Yakov P. Asminkin. Reproductive and Sexual Health among Young Adults in Uzbekistan. Studies in Family Planning, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Mar., 2004), pp. 1-14

Mortality and health in Russia

April 23. Lecture #8
Measures of mortality, the concept of life table. The theory of epidemiologic transition. Epidemiologic transition in Russia and its periods. Mortality reversal. Changes in infant mortality. Adult mortality trends and differentials. 
  1. Victoria A. Velkoff, Jane E. Miller. Trends and Differentials in Infant Mortality in the Soviet Union, 1970-90: How Much Is Due to Misreporting? Population Studies, Vol. 49, No. 2 (Jul., 1995), pp. 241-258
   2. Vladimir Shkolnikov, France Mesle, Jacques Vallin. Health Crisis in Russia I. Recent Trends in Life Expectancy and Causes of Death from 1970 to 1993. Population: An English Selection, Vol. 8, (1996), pp. 123-154
   3. Vladimir Shkolnikov, France Mesle, Jacques Vallin. Health Crisis in Russia II. Changes in Causes of Death: a Comparison with France and England and Wales (1970 to 1993). Population: An English Selection, Vol. 8, (1996), pp. 155-189 
   4. WHO Discussion on age-standardized mortality

April 28. Lecture #9
Factors affecting mortality. Alcohol consumption and mortality in Russia. Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign and its effects on mortality. Yeltsin's "market reforms" and mortality crisis. Current situation with mortality in Russia.  
    1. Gavrilova, N.S., Semyonova, V.G., Evdokushkina G.N., Gavrilov, L.A. The response of violent mortality to economic crisis in Russia. Population Research and Policy Review, 2000, 19: 397-419. 
    2. Barbara A. Anderson, Brian D. Silver. Sex Differentials in Mortality in the Soviet Union: Regional Differences in Length of Working Life in Comparative Perspective. Population Studies, Vol. 40, No. 2 (1986), pp. 191-214. 
    3. Nemtsov, A. Russia: alcohol yesterday and today. ADDICTION, 2005, 100(2), pp. 146-149. 
    4. Nemtsov, A. Alcohol consumption in Russia: Is monitoring health conditions in the Russian Federation (RLMS) trustworthy? ADDICTION, 2004, 99(3), pp. 386-387 
    5. Shkolnikov, VM; Cornia, GAA; Leon, DA, et al. Causes of the Russian mortality crisis: Evidence and interpretations. WORLD DEVELOPMENT, 1998, 26(11), pp.1995-2011  

April 30. Lecture #10
Causes of death and their classification. Major causes of death in Russia. Lifestyle of Russian men and women and its effect on health. Measures of population health. Current threats to population health. Health care system in Russia and health care reforms. 
   1. William C. Cockerham, M. Christine Snead, Derek F. DeWaal. Health Lifestyles in Russia and the Socialist Heritage. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Mar., 2002), pp. 42-55. 
   2. William C. Cockerham. The Social Determinants of the Decline of Life Expectancy in Russia and Eastern Europe: A Lifestyle Explanation. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 38, No. 2 (Jun., 1997), pp. 117-130 
   3. Andreev, EM, McKee, M, Shkolnikov, VM. 2003. Health expectancy in the Russian Federation: a new perspective on the health divide in Europe. BULLETIN OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION   Volume: 81   Issue: 11   Pages: 778-787.


May 5. Lecture #11
Migration and its effects on population growth and population structure. Forced migrations in the Soviet Union. Migration flows after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. 
   1. Dariusz Stola. Migrations in Central and Eastern Europe. International Migration Review, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Winter, 1998), pp. 1069-1072. 
   2. Dariusz Stola. Forced Migrations in Central European History. International Migration Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, Special Issue: The New Europe and International Migration (Summer, 1992), pp. 324-341

Population Aging

May 7. Lecture #12
Population aging in Russia and the Former Soviet Union. Measures of population aging. Major causes of population aging.  
   Natalia S. Gavrilova and Leonid A. Gavrilov. Rapidly Aging Populations: Russia/Eastern Europe. To be published in "International Handbook of Population Aging" (editor: Peter Uhlenberg).

Population growth and development in the Former Soviet Union

May 12. Lecture #13
Population processes in the countries of the Former Soviet Union. Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and the Baltic countries.  Student presentations: 
   -   Estonia by Jeannette Daly
   -   Lithuania  by Lindsey Royer
   -   Belarus by Berney Richert

May 14. Lecture #14
Population development in Central Asia and Caucasus.   Student presentations: 
   -   Armenia by Craig Johnson 
   -   Georgia by Jane Charney  
   -   Uzbekistan by Boram Shin

Special topics

May 19. Lecture #15
Elderly in Russia. Socio-economic consequences of population aging.  Demographic dividend. Pension reform.

May 21. Lecture #16
Ethnic differences in mortality.  Violent crime in Russia and its effect on population.  
   Gavrilova, N.S., Gavrilov, L.A., Semyonova, V.G., Evdokushkina,  G.N., Ivanova, A.E. 2005. Patterns of violent crime in Russia. In: Pridemore, W.A. (ed.). Ruling Russia: Law, Crime, and Justice in a Changing Society. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield Publ., Inc, 117-145.

May 26. Holiday.

May 28. Lecture #17
Overview of world population policies.  Population policies in contemporary Russia. Fertility policies. Mortality policies. Regulation of migration flows.

June 2. Final exam