FILE PHOTO: A newborn in the ward of a maternity hospital in Voronezh, Russia.
© Sputnik / Lesya PolyakovaFILE PHOTO: A newborn in the ward of a maternity hospital in Voronezh, Russia.
The low birth rate is endangering the country's economic development, experts have warned

A record-low birth rate has become the most significant constraint on Russia's long-term development, national daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported on Friday, citing a new study.

Last year, the rate was at its lowest level since the start of the century, official statistics showed. According to research conducted by macroeconomic analysis center CMASF, both the shrinking population and rising pressure on increasingly scarce workers now pose a serious challenge for Russia's economy.

In 2023, just over 1.2 million babies were born in Russia, the lowest figure since 1999. The researchers said the decline was "inevitable" as large numbers of men are fighting in the Ukraine conflict, or have left Russia. Birth rates have been steadily declining since a peak in 2014, the researchers noted. The national statistics bureau, Rosstat, previously predicted a continued decline in the birth rate through 2027.

If the trend continues, by 2035 Russia's population of 146 million will shrink by 4%, and by 2050 - by 6%, the new report says. A decline in the population leads to various problems for the economy as a whole, as well as for certain sectors, it adds.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has designated 2024 the 'Year of the Family' in Russia and, according to the Kremlin, the issue is of critical importance for the nation.

In his address to the Federal Assembly in February, President Putin admitted that Russia, like many other countries, is faced with a declining birth rate. He suggested that all levels of government, civil society, and religions should work together to make large families the social norm, a cornerstone of social life, and a state strategy guideline.