Reporting on Russian President Vladimir Putin's address to parliament on May 10, 2006, the New York Times quoted Woodrow Wilson Center Senior Scholar Murray Feshbach, in several articles. In the address, Putin urged legislators to adopt a program to reverse the decline in the country's population—estimated at 700,000 people annually. Putin's proposed demographic plan, the Times notes, uses incentives similar to those employed during the Soviet era to encourage women to reproduce.

Scholars, including Feshbach and analysts at the World Bank and United Nations, are apprehensive about whether incentives for reproducing will spur enough growth to overcome both current population decline, as well as expected increases in the mortality rate due to the increasing prevalence of infectious diseases. One article notes that scholars and demographers have been predicting this decline for years, and quotes Feshbach's 2003 report "Russia's Health and Demographic Crisis." In the report, Feshbach, an expert on population, health, and environment in Russia, warns of a potentially devastating population decline in Russia due to a growing rate of unhealthy newborns, environmental hazards, and disease, particularly HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

Feshbach, an emeritus research professor at Georgetown University, last spoke at the Wilson Center's 20th anniversary commemoration of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. His most recent publications highlight the Russian HIV/AIDS epidemic and potential social disarray from myriad health factors.

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