Demographic Transition in Russia and Canada


A demographic transition signals the shift (in a country or region) from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates. A demographic transition usually arises when a country evolves from a pre-industrial to an industrialized state. Once a nation achieves the goal of industrialization, the accompanying changes in the socio-economic priorities usher in an era of low death and birth rates. Improved health facilities, better diets, and better family planning practices bring about low birth and death rates.

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There have been arguments about a second demographic transition existing in industrialized countries, where changes in patterns of cohabitation, marriage priorities, and value for children, increased divorce rates and higher age at which women bear children signal this second transition (Perelli-Harris & Gerber, 2011, p.321; Hall, 2002, p.183). Such changes, according to the authors, would usher in a second demographic transition.

Demographic Transition and Age

One of the consequences of demographic transition is an aging population. According to Sciegaj and Behr (2010), by 2025, many industrialized countries like Japan, Australia, the US, and European countries will have doubled the number of persons aged 60 years or older at about 20% from 10% (p 84). Countries in demographic transition face the prospect of lacking a population of working age and thus face the reality of lower economic productivity.

Age Pyramid of Russia and Canada

Russia is an industrialized country with a population of about 140,000 million people, and a population growth rate of -0.06% (Nation Masters “Russia”, 2011). Russia has a life expectancy of about 70 years. The most populous group in Russia has a median age of 50-54yrs. This group is relatively advanced in age and points to the demographic transition of Russia. On the other hand, Canada has a population of about 31 million persons. The most populous age group in Canada is within the 45-49 Age groups (Nation Masters “Canada”, 2011).

These countries – Russia and Canada – are industrialized; therefore, they have both attained demographic transition. The most populous age groups in these countries are both above 45 years – 50-54yrs for Russia and 45-49 years for Canada. The implications on the health of the population in these countries are inherent in the numbers. In Russia, the problem of finding an active labor force is imminent if not present. The rate of population growth in Russia is -0.06%, meaning that, there is a marginal annual decrease in the population. In Canada, the population growth rate is 1.3 %, a comparatively high growth rate when juxtaposed with that of Russia. Therefore, while Canada will be able to replenish its workforce through its growing citizenry, Russia might soon need to start importing the labor force because of the negative population growth rate and its aging workforce.

Implications of an Aging Workforce

The implications of an aging workforce include the reduction in economic productivity. Once the productivity of a country goes down, the impact over a long period can be lasting and may even change the country’s geopolitical status. The negative growth rate in Russia is as much a function of better healthcare – thus higher life expectancy, as it is one of a change in values for the populace – families having fewer children.


In conclusion, the demographic transition is a direct result of movement from pre-industrial to industrial states. The implications of demographic transition include, as indicated, sometimes detrimental to the long-term growth of the countries and therefore, governments should take the time to address this phenomenon (Angeles, 2010, p.110). The time to act is now.

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Angeles, L. (2010). Demographic transitions: analyzing the effects of mortality on fertility. Journal of Population Economics, 23(1), 99-120.

Hall, R. David. (2002). Risk Society and the second Demographic Transition. Canadian Studies in Population, 29 (2) 173-193.

Nation Masters. (2011). Canadian People Stats. Web.

Nation Masters. (2011). Russian People Stats. Web.

Perelli-Harris, B., & Gerber, T. (2011). Nonmarital Childbearing in Russia: Second Demographic Transition or Pattern of Disadvantage? Demography, 48(1), 317-342.

Sciegaj, M., & Behr, R. A. (2010). Lessons for the United States from countries adapting to the consequences of aging populations. Technology & Disability, 22(1/2), 83-88.

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