ISSN 2409-2274

Demographic consequences of the Great Patriotic War

Анатолий Вишневский 1

  • 1 НИУ ВШЭ, 101000, Россия, Москва, ул. Мясницкая, д.20

2016, English selection, с. 47–78


75 years have passed since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, yet its demographic consequences, felt by Russia throughout all of this time, even now have not been completely overcome. Using general census data starting with the 1939 census, the article traces the fate of the generations who fought (those born between 1890-1926).  It is shown that 82% of women and only 53% of men registered in the 1939 census survived until 1959.  The resulting gender imbalance caused a sharp increase in the proportion of single women as a result of widowhood, and due to a shortage of suitors in the marriage market the share of non-marital births increased significantly. The war set in motion an oscillating cycle of the annual number of births which continues to this day. A relatively small number of deaths in the postwar decades, due to the fact that a huge number of people killed during the war did not live to a normal age of death, created the illusion of a safe balance of births and deaths in the 1970’s-1980's. Cyclical fluctuations in the size of generations induced by the war resulted in a wave-like dynamics of the working population and demographic burden, complicating the functioning of the labor market and the implementation of economic and social programs, effects which are felt even in our day, for example, in the dynamics of pension contingents.

The author discusses the reasons for the huge military losses and suggests that if the war had not been preceded by erroneous decisions of the country’s political leaders, these losses could have been much smaller.