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May 31, 2012


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Alexander Mercouris

Dear Patrick,

On the subject of Russia's demography situation, could it be that the country to compare Russia with might be France?

Until the 1950s France's population had experienced a very prolonged period of stagnation whilst the populations of Britain and Germany had grown rapidly. The result was that whilst France had had a population that was about four times greater than Britain's in 1800 by 1950 Britain's population had at the very least drawn level with that of France and might even have surpassed it (I don't remember the exact figures). Then to everybody's surprise in the 1950s France's population, which had for so long been static, suddenly started to grow. I remember reading somewhere an article by a British visitor of the time who commented on how once drab French provincial towns that had once seemed to be populated with only old or middle aged people suddenly appeared to fill with brightly dressed children. So far as I know there is still no agreement as to quite why this change took place.

As you will appreciate the above is just a thought that has come to me after reading your (as always) excellent summary and its comment about Russia's demographic picture. It is not a prediction. As you rightly say it is much too early to say what exactly is happening but the auguries do look favourable and one can I think be cautiously optimistic. We shall see.

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