MOSCOW, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Russia faces a precipitous population drop because of an increasing death rate and plummeting birth rate.
The Times of London reports Russia had 1.6 million reported abortions last year, and just 1.5 million recorded births. At the same time, the life expectancy for men is now 58.8, 20 years below Iceland's.
In the past year, Russia's population fell by almost half a million people, and it could fall from 143 million now to 77 million by 2050. That could leave the country with too few workers to keep its economy going.
Vladimir Kulakov, deputy head of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and an adviser to President Vladimir Putin, told the Times the country is in critical condition.
"The most important thing for every nation is to have confidence in its future," he said.
Kulakov said about 10 million Russians are incapable of becoming parents because of factors like incompetent abortions and exposure to radiation. Other Russians have been having few children because of fear that they will not be able to support them.
The high death rate has been attributed to a collapsing health system, high rates of alcoholism and violent crime.