Over last decades, the population of major countries like China, India, Soviet Union/ Russia, Japan, Germany and the United States have changed. This has clearly changed the balance of power between them and will continue to as we move forward into the future. For example:
Unite States versus Soviet Union:
Year United States Russia Ratio
1950/51 151.3 (1950) 182.3 (1951) 0.83-to-1
1980/82 226.5 (1980) 270.0 (1982) 0.84-to-1
2018 308.7 142.9 2.16-to-1
2050 402 132 3.05-to-1
Now, this is certainly the biggest change we will look at. Russia went from almost being a world power to being a pale reflection of its past power and glory (I am willing to argue that the Soviet Union was never really a world power….it just pretended to be one). Added to that is the economic changes over time. I hesitate to even discuss what the GDP of the Soviet Union was, as the ruble was artificially inflated. When it was floated in the 1990s, it went from one ruble per 1.11 dollars (it always was worth more than a dollar in the Soviet era, of course)…to something like 3,000 rubles to a dollar. They then shaved off two the zeros for the new ruble to make it less than 30 rubles to a dollar. The current exchange rate is 65 rubles to a dollar.
The current Russian GDP is 1.5 trillion (IMF 2017). This is compared to the United States GDP of 19.4 trillion (IMF 2017). So, right now, Russia has less than half the population and less than a tenth of the economy of the United States. In 2050 it will have only a third of the population of the U.S. Who knows what the economy will be. The Russia economy might still be pretty dependent on the price of oil.
With its population declining, its work force aging, its economy built upon export of oil and gas, with wide spread corruption, and an entrenched leadership; it is hard to imagine that Russia’s economy will have an extended economic growth that will return it to being a great power. Its economic growth last year (2017) was 1.5%. Russia is currently the 11th or 12th richest country in the world. It is behind Canada. My seat-of-the-pants estimate is that Russia will still not be among the 10 richest countries in 2050.
For Russia to return to its old glory, it really sort of needs to re-constitute the Soviet Union or the old Russian Empire to some degree. Some would argue that this has indeed been part of Putin’s plan. I will examine this in a future post.