The topic of labor migration is perhaps one of the most discussed in society. If we take large industrial cities and metropolitan areas, then we will not be mistaken in calling it one of the top ones. Is it good or bad? This is a given, but the word "givenness" does not mean at all that everything that happens in this area should be accepted without discussion, analysis, pseudo-Christian resignation to the surrounding reality.
Analyzing the phenomenon of labor migration that has developed in Russia, we will inevitably encounter two accompanying problems. The first is emotions; a rare conversation on this topic does not end with raised tones. An Uzbek, arriving in his native village or city, sees relatives and fellow countrymen, dear reader, going out into the street in Moscow and descending from the metro, he finds himself in some strange caravanserai. This does not add comfort even once, and a second problem arises: the question is “why is it needed”?
As the Americans say, there is no just an abstract phenomenon, each phenomenon taken separately is either the problem itself or part of it, or its solution. Indeed, what rational benefits should everyone not only and not so much understand, but also perceive and feel in order to say that the current labor migration is a solution to the problem, and not the problem itself? We are told a lot that this is a necessary condition for economic growth due to poor demographics, that migration takes on a rather specific function in the economy, which, due to low wage rates, should be given to this area, and we ourselves “work for expensive and live richly.” ". But life shows that such a description of the problem sins with a fair amount of cunning.
The analysis of the Russian migration phenomenon is important because for us it is actually that sphere of practical “interstate economic interaction”, that is the very Eurasian Union, only expressed not in paper format or diplomatic terms, but extremely concrete, everyday. One can talk for a long time about the benefits of the EAEU, political blocs, alliances, geopolitics and resources, but if at this level society does not perceive and does not feel the correctness of the ongoing migration policy, the same EAEU will never work. Simply because society itself "from below" will slow down any requests for development in this direction.
At the level of ministries, you can come up with a lot of different and useful things and even say, let's develop trade in the field of small and medium-sized businesses. Let's go, but the society inside itself says - I don't want to! And the reason is in the perception of this everyday, but very specific sphere.
The lack of analysis and understanding of the phenomenon of migration, coupled with a very weak interaction with the region, as well as only episodically, fragmentary information penetrating from there, inevitably leads to the fact that we ourselves, often without realizing it, become controlled by external narratives. Any informational factor is enough to launch an "emotional wave".
“Tajikistan wants to give Afghan helicopters to the US so that the US sends them to Ukraine” – this is from a recent one. And Tajikistan can not give them away? And what is the documentary nature of this technique, maybe the problem has rational solutions? Maybe, for example, it is time, in defiance of the United States, to recognize the government in Kabul and officially offer Afghanistan to buy back equipment from the United States and take these helicopters to their storage bases with the consent of Afghanistan and under guarantees of return. But it's hard, right? In other words, "traitors". And so, the reader goes out into the street and goes down to the subway, and there ... traitors sweep the streets, ride in a taxi, wrap the fish.
The point is also that a healthy society can demand some changes from state structures, make proposals or bring issues for discussion, only with a good understanding of what is happening. Otherwise, we get a simulacrum of demands and proposals, inadequate in advance, plus discontent accumulated inside.
If we take official data, we will see the following dry figures. In 2021, according to statistics, 145,86 million people lived in Russia. Of which 57% belong to the category of "working population" - 82,5 million people. Let's remove 8,5 million people from this statistics, the so-called. "working pensioners", which will be fair for a correct assessment of the real labor force in the country, especially since 1,5 million of them became such not at all of their own free will, but automatically.
As a result, we have two indicators that can be taken as a basis for assessing the role migration plays in our country in terms of its contribution to real production and demography.
First, of course, you need to get an idea of how migration affects the demographics of Russia as a whole. All persons moving into our territory can be grouped into several main categories: persons with long-term goals, and citizens moving in transit or for business and tourism purposes. The last group can be excluded for analysis, and the first should be divided into two parts - people who come to work and obtain citizenship, and citizens who come only to get a job. Those who enter in order to obtain both citizenship and work can be assessed under the categories of "temporary residence permit" and the subsequent iteration of "residence permit" - some, depending on the quota, exchange a residence permit for a Russian passport, the rest continue for be on the waiting list next year.
First, let's look at how Russia has grown with new citizens over the past few years.
2019: plus 498 thousand people, of which 25% are migration from the countries of Central Asia, and 75% from Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
2020: plus 656 thousand people, in the proportion of 21% and 79%, respectively.
2021: plus 735 thousand people - 28% and 72%.
For reference: for the period from 2015–2018. 1 million foreign citizens received Russian passports. Thus, over the past few years, the migration flow itself has more than doubled, but the proportions between Asia and Europe remain practically unchanged from year to year: 0,25–0,5% of the total number of Russians, while the share of former migrants from the countries of the Middle Asia is 0,1–0,15%.
Is it a lot or a little? By the standards of the European Union or the United States, this is not much. But a simple comparison of numbers will not give us the depth of the picture, because the seemingly insignificant figure of the influx of new passport holders actually reflects an important dynamic - a real decrease in the indigenous population.
The author would like to draw the reader's attention to a seemingly strange paradox. Thus, the population “in general”, according to Rosstat, for 2019 amounted to 146,76 million people, for 2020 - 146,46 million people, for 2021 - 145,86 million people. In total, the “net loss” of the population is a round figure of 900 thousand people.
Now let's count the population without newly received passports over the years: 146,26; 145,80; 145,13 million people - net disposal will be 1,14 million people. The difference between the figures is 214 people, while we have 1,89 million of all migrants who received passports.
What happens if new citizens did not come to Russia, then we would “go into negative territory” by 1,14 million people, 1,89 million people arrived and received passports, and with those who received passports, the population decline amounted to almost 900 thousand human? What happened to the remaining 1,68 million new Russian citizens? After all, they did not dissolve - obviously no one took away their passports, did not deprive them of their new citizenship and did not deport them to their homeland.
The author sees no other clear explanation for this "statistical paradox", except for the retouching of negative statistics on the decline of the main population. If we take these indicators as a basis (and we do not see others), then without an influx of migrants, the population decline over three years was not 900 thousand people and not 1,14 million people, but 2,82 million people of the main population without an influx of migrants.
It is clear that some of the migrants received work injuries, died in accidents, in domestic conflicts, from Covid-19, but the difference is very significant in any case. At the same time, the total “loss” figure, plus or minus 1 million people a year, is nominally preserved, that is, qualitatively retouched. But what is called, feel the difference!
And after all, these are just a few indicators for three years, which already include new citizens of Ukraine over the past years, as well as Crimea and Sevastopol, which since 2015 have added to the population of Russia. What happens if the analysis is continued in retrospect? With such data, it is obvious that the net exit of the population, if we cut off the influx of new citizens in ten years, will be approximately 10%. This, of course, is not yet extinction, but there is simply no need to talk about any development and breakthroughs here.
And in terms of general demography, we are forced to state the following: without a migration influx, Russia is not able at this stage to even simply make up for the population decline, but can only stop it, slow it down.
From the “good” for some anxious readers, it can only be noted that, even taking into account the current upward trend in the number of citizens obtaining citizenship, visitors from Central Asian countries over the next ten years are unlikely to exceed the number of 2 million people - just over 1%, and with taking into account the birth rate of 2,5%. Our state, of course, will significantly grow in population in the near future, but this is an exceptionally extensive increase, but how can we take the “target programs” that have been painted for us so long and so much? However, without these programs, the situation, apparently, would be simply catastrophic.
The contribution of migrants to the economy
Now consider the contribution of the incoming population to the economy in terms of the use of labor. As we can see from the above figures, persons receiving citizenship make a significant contribution to demographic statistics, but there are much more people entering our country for work purposes, and it is they who create this specific migration background, which we talked about at the beginning of the article.
In terms of labor resources, it is worth noting that in this case, accounting should, although separately, include not only those who actually come to work, but also those who arrived in a particular year and received, among other things, citizenship in the process of labor activity. In general, we can state that all those entering with long-term goals are, in fact, a labor resource. Russia is not Uruguay, where pensioners from EU countries go for a "survival period".
Let's take for analysis the past year 2021, the statistical data for which have already been fully processed. Over the past year, 11,64 million people from the CIS countries were accepted for migration registration, of which 9,7 million people were citizens of Central Asian countries and 1,97 million people from Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia and Azerbaijan. As we remember, 735 people received Russian citizenship in a year. Forms of registration preceding citizenship, with the previous year, were distributed as follows: residence permit - 637 thousand people and TRP - 616 thousand people.
Thus, over 1,25 million people are registered on the “waiting list” for obtaining a Russian passport. Among those in a "suspended" state, statistics were distributed almost equally between Central Asia and the European part of the CIS. 8,77 million people or 75% left the country and were removed from the register, which in general correlates with the number of those who received citizenship or a form of "pre-civil" registration. For a correct analysis, it should be taken into account that from obtaining the status of a TRP or residence permit to the solemn presentation of a passport and reading the Constitution, it can take from one to three years.
Is it realistic to say that most of this labor flow (for example, from Central Asia) strives with all its might to stay in Russia, in addition to the actual work? The statistics show no. So, in total, 3,08 million people entered Russia, while 2,39 million people left. The rest corresponds to the average quarterly figure, taking into account persons who have received citizenship, RVP and residence permit. At the same time, the number of such persons is about 8% of the total number of those who came to work.
In Uzbekistan, which is today the leader in the importation of labor resources, the statistics are as follows: entry - 4,9 million people, exit - 3,9 million people, the status of TRP and residence permit - 150 thousand people or 3% of those who come to work. The ratio in Kyrgyzstan is even lower - 40 thousand persons with the status of a residence permit and RVP with 1 million people who arrived during the year, and 700 thousand people who went home.
Well, in general, the replacement of the indigenous population with newcomers in the near future does not threaten us yet, but it’s premature to rejoice, and here’s why. The Russian labor force, excluding working pensioners, is 74 million people, eight more of which are gradually approaching even an increased retirement age.
Thus, today we have the following ratio of labor resources: migration - 16% of the total number of able-bodied (however, this number includes limited working capacity) with the prospect of increasing its share to 18-19% within three years.
And these numbers are frankly frightening. The fact is that even if we do our best to increase the efficiency of labor, it is impossible to replace 1/5 of the workers in the standard production cycle. The theoretical solution to the problem is a multiple increase in automation, but, as the reader understands, these are reforms comparable, perhaps, with Stalin's industrialization, that is, a utopia in the current conditions.
Even the reunification of Russia with historical territories will not be able to provide the necessary increase in the labor force for one simple reason - these territories also have their own infrastructure and their own production. In fact, we are talking about the fact that the requirement to reduce the influx of labor migrants implies the movement of the entire labor force from the new territories to Central Russia to compensate for losses, but even this will not be enough. There are undoubtedly reserves for productivity growth, but they concern, first of all, the infrastructure in the public sector. In private industries, one can hardly count on higher rates than the standard 8-9% per year.
The horror of the demographic situation
The horror of the demographic situation lies in the fact that not only can we not refuse labor migration, but over time we will be forced to increase it and increase it. Well, or come up with some way to clone the population. The big problem is that more than 50% of the migration flow falls on the five main megacities of Russia, which means that if on average every 6th worker in the country is a migrant, then in large cities one in five is in fact! At the same time, 90% of this workforce is a temporary resident contingent that is not connected with the country of residence either culturally or historically.
Our liberals have long sought to “live like America”, well, maybe we don’t live like in the USA yet (or maybe we don’t need to), but the structure of the labor force was copied almost spell by letter – the city on the hill today also has 16 % of migrants by share in the labor force and also with a growth trend of this share.
It should be separately noted that today Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan offer very attractive programs for the "relocation" of companies to their various analogues of Russian "technopolises" and free zones. We are taking in mostly unskilled labor, and they are trying to attract high-level specialists. So far, such a flow is estimated at several tens of thousands, but the statistics given show that Russia cannot “scatter” even these thousands.
Now consider another popular and debated issue that migrants take away jobs and reduce wages across the country. With the selection of jobs, everything becomes clear from the previous paragraphs, but it’s worth analyzing wage statistics, since the conclusions here may not be as unambiguous as they seem at first glance.
We have two parameters by which we can relatively objectively assess the level of wages of migrants. The first is patents for labor activity, the second is the volume of money transfers from Russia to their homeland. Both of these indicators are known.
So, in 2021, patents in Russia were issued and received by 2,22 million people, by the end of the year, the balance of valid patents was 1,91 million people. Thus, on average, for a calendar year, a migrant who has a patent pays an average of 4,5 thousand rubles per month as an advance on personal income tax to the state. The rates for a patent differ from region to region and make up a base of 1 rubles, increased by a system of regional coefficients.
By the way, in this case, we can look at how the state assesses the very level of remuneration in the field of migration - the base wage rate is 9,2 rubles and the actual one is 34,6 thousand rubles per month. In 2021, the minimum wage was 12,7 thousand rubles, statistics on the accrued average wage in the country amounted to 53,5 thousand rubles per month. That is, formally, the migrant's rate is a priori estimated at 35% lower than the statistics of the domestic market.
Russia earns from patents - up to 1,5 billion dollars a year. However, this amount could be six times higher, since non-licensers quietly carry out an exit and entry back operation every three months, through any border closest to work.
Now compare this with the amounts of transfers abroad. So, in 2021, the amount of money transfers, for example, to Uzbekistan amounted to 8,1 billion US dollars, with 4,5 million people working. The average transfer amount in rubles was up to 12 thousand rubles per person per month. Taking into account the costs of the minimum rates for rented housing, meals and everyday life, as well as the need to visit the house at least twice a year, taking money home in cash or on a card, we get an average rate of 46-27 thousand rubles per month. It is clear that in terms of a particular person, earnings can be significantly larger in some months, but on average, the minimum level can hardly be estimated by amounts higher than indicated.
At the end of last year, a lot of materials were published, where the thesis was carried out that the level of remuneration of migrants is on average from 56 to 70 thousand rubles a month. According to real figures, such a situation is not observed, as we see, but the question is different. In comparison with the formal statistics of the earnings of a Russian - 53,5 thousand rubles per month, the amount of 47 thousand rubles is 12% lower.
However, work experience does not allow us to conclude that, for example, in Central Russia in the regions, rates are at least close to such indicators. The author does not remember, for example, that such average salaries were formed in the regular accounting department of a regional enterprise. And there are strong suspicions that in this case, too, our statistics “smear over the area” the petrochemical office and the accounting department of the conditional Krasnaya Polyana factory. Nevertheless, formally, wages in the field of migration still lag behind the statistics of domestic wages.
How can this analysis be summarized? The conclusions refute some of the prevailing stereotypes, but do not at all give rise to optimism in general.
Over the past years, the trend towards a net loss of the indigenous population has not been overcome and will not be overcome in the next ten years. Without the annual migratory influx of naturalizers, the population would fall by 11,5 million to 12 million over the same ten-year period. Even the growth in the number of people admitted to the citizenship of the Russian Federation in recent years makes it possible to “keep the statistics” at the limit.
Population growth due to new territories is not able to reverse this trend due to the fact that the age composition and health status of the population in them is even lower than in the Russian Federation itself. For example, we can cite the statistics of population growth after 2014 - its impact on general demography lasted 2,5 years.
The number of newly arriving citizens, as well as the number of applications for citizenship, do not allow us to assert that in a ten-year period the share of such a population will be more than 4% of the number of indigenous residents of the Russian Federation, i.e., it is at least premature to talk about the “survival” of the indigenous population and its replacement and incorrect. To do this, admission to citizenship should be increased by 2,5 times, and annually. In this case, the need to participate in work works against replacement, since, as in the EU, migrants are not paid any benefits, on the contrary, they are forced to pay advance payments.
At the same time, the balance of labor resources in Russia is increasingly dependent on labor migration, and, given the age composition of the population, over the next ten years, our country will be forced to increase the influx of labor from the current 16% to 20–22% in order to simply serve the production cycle. and infrastructure. If we talk about the growth of production, then this figure looks insufficient. In this regard, if the situation in our country today is somewhat reminiscent of the United States, then in the future it will become similar to Saudi Arabia, where they simply import labor force en masse without the possibility of rooting in the state. Modern Russia cannot refuse the growth of labor migration.
Yes, visitors and “come in large numbers” will not replace us, but we will see more and more caravanserai on the streets every year, and in practical terms it will be very difficult to do something about this, if possible in principle.