There were about 1,599,316 (10.9/1,000) births in 2018, a decline of 5.4% relative to the 1,689,884 (11.5/1,000) births in 2017. There were about 1,817,710 (12.4/1,000) deaths in 2018, a decline of 0.4% relative to the 1,824,340 (12.4/1,000) deaths in 2017.
Consequently, the rate of natural increase declined from -134,456 (-0.9/1,000) in 2017, to -218,394 in 2018.
Unlike the previous year, the decline in birth rates was relatively even across Russian and non-Russian regions in 2018 (e.g. Dagestan declined by 5.2%, which is similar to the Russian average).
The population was estimated at 146,793,744 as of Jan 1, 2019, down from 146,880,432 exactly one year ago. This implies about 131,706 in long-term net immigration, down from 172,551 last year.
If accurate, this would mark the first time since 2007 that the population of Russia has declined in absolute terms*....
My "predictions" are pretty basic. Hopefully 2019 will mark a final turnaround in the fertility collapse, though the numbers for late 2018 indicate that we haven't quite reached bottom yet. Life expectancy, and other health indicators, should continue to improve.
The Russian government recently released its thirteen "national plans" - a massive infrastructure and capacity building program that will plow $400 billion into Russia's roads, bridges, and hospitals over the next five years.
The two plans most relevant to Russian demographics are the following:
Healthcare ($30 billion)
This program aims to improve mortality from diseases of the circulatory system, dropping it by a quarter. While Russia has seen major improvements on this score (dropping from ~900/100,000 in the early 2000s to 575/100,000 by 2018, it still has a long way to go; typical rates in the EU are well less than 200/100,000.
On the other hand, the goal of lowering infant mortality from 5.5/1,000 in 2017 to 4.5/1,000 by 2024 has already been half achieved (see above).
There is a major emphasis on improving hospital accessibility and prophylactic care.
There's even a goal of quadrupling medical equipment exports from $250 million to $1 billion annually (while that's almost a rounding error in terms of Russian exports, this would presumably imply developing a domestic medical equipment industry - could this be a protective measure against the prospect of ramped up US sanctions?).
Demographics ($50 billion)
Goals include increasing healthy life expectancy, increasing the fertility rate to 1.7 children per woman (this would actually fall short of the figures reached in 2013-16; though it does tally with my prediction for the early 2020s), increasing participation in sports.
However, in terms of spending, the vast bulk of the spending - around 90% of it - will go specifically on financial support for families with children and preschooling. There will also be mortgage rates of 6% for families with two or more children.
I looked up the details at RT Russian [Google Translate]:
"From January 1, 2019, the amount of state benefits paid in connection with the birth of a child in Russia will increase. Thus, the maximum amount of monthly payments to parents whose children have not reached 1.5 years will exceed 26 thousand rubles, the minimum - 4.5 thousand rubles. At the same time, the maximum amount of maternity allowance will exceed the level of 300 thousand rubles. For at least 140 days of maternity leave, the mother will be able to get 51.9 thousand. Assistance is provided for both employed parents and unemployed. Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the total funding of measures to support families with children in the next six years will amount to almost 2.7 trillion rubles. ...
"This type of assistance from the state is more designed for employed parents, since the amount of the benefit should be 40% of the average earnings for the two previous calendar years per one month. The marginal bases for calculating insurance contributions to the Social Insurance Fund for 2017 and 2018 are 755 thousand rubles and 815 thousand rubles."
Essentially, this represents an intensification of the pro-natalist policies that Russia has been pursuing for a decade now. This seems similar to trends in Hungary. Let's see if it works.