Portrait of a Declining Russia
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  • BobSykes

    During the Soviet era, some economist pointed out that the USSR’s real problem was it was too big for the population it had. All per capita infrastructure costs were huge compared to those in Europe, Asia and the US. The Trans Siberian railroad is 5,753 miles long from Moscow to Vladivostock. Other infrastructure has similar gargantuan sizes and costs.

    The expenditures on these projects prevents investment and expenditures on other stuff and retards Russia’s economic development. Russia would do better to sell Siberia to China and bring its people back behind the Urals.

    • rheddles

      They’d still be Russians. And the money would be blown on vodka within a decade. The twentieth century took a terrible toll on whatever chances Russia had at the end of the nineteenth.

  • Stephen Ivkovich

    That picture could have come from Detroit… Bad Government is a killer.

  • free_agent

    It seems like a lot of the towns are becoming ghost towns. To some degree, this is because they are neglected in government spending. But also, it seems that they are not economically viable, at least given that there is a floor on labor costs set by the opportunities of the cities. At least, the fact that one of the towns is described as used to be surrounded by collective farms and is now reverting to forest suggests a shift in the fundamental economics.

    In the US, most rural towns haven’t shrunk much because the national population is growing. The Russian population is shrinking, and the lessening of controls since the dissolution has probably unleashed pent-up demand for migration to the cities.

  • Andrew Allison

    The gratuitous suggestion that “child marriages are common” is based on a single instance among a minority group among which the practice is common, and detracts from a competent report.

  • corsairthepirate

    Thanks for the heads-up. That was a great article.

  • Matt B

    You know you have it bad when you fantasize about living in Belarus.

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