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Russia's population is projected to decline sharply over the next decade, driven by rising death rates - by far the highest among G8 countries.

The declining population is of great concern to President Putin, who has pledged a series of incentives to raise the birth rate. But the collapse of the Soviet-era health-care system, and increased levels of poverty and alcoholism have dramatically lowered life expectancy.

It has also led to a rise in the rate of infectious diseases, such as TB, and a growing HIV/Aids crisis that may not be fully reflected in official figures. The rise in the death rate - which has reached levels similar to those in developing countries - is unprecedented among G8 countries, and is probably a reflection of a deeper social crisis.

Graph showing populations of G8 countries in 1990, 2004 and projected figures for 2020 - World Bank

Graph comparing life expectancy at birth of G8 countries for 1990 and 2004

Graphs comparing HIV and TB prevalence in G8 countries


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