Russia Continues to Lose Scientists as Kremlin Cuts Back Funding

File Photo of Test Tubes with Algae Displaying Different Colors, Part of U.S. Energy-Related Research; from

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, Oct. 10, 2021)

The number of scholars and associated personnel working in the natural sciences has fallen to the lowest level in at least ten years, with the total number employed down a third from the number at the end of Soviet times, according to a new Higher School of Economics study.

The HSE researchers says that the decline was largest in the 1990s, then slowed in the 2000s, and has accelerated again since 2016 when the economy stagnated and the government sequestered funds, leaving many laboratories without the ability to continue to employ scientists despite Kremlin promises to the contrary (

Over the last decade, Russia has lost 28,300 scientists, or about 7.5 percent of the total in 2011. In the natural sciences, the decline was almost 10 percent; in the technical sciences, 7.7 percent; in medical research, 13.2 percent; and in agricultural research, 26.2 percent. Only increases in those in the humanities and social sciences kept the decline from being greater.

Scholars working in law, economics, history, sociology, political science and allied disciplines saw their numbers rise by 18.3 percent. Those in the humanities increased in number by 4.2 percent over the same period. These changes reflect changes in budgetary support for scholarship in various sectors.

At present, the HSE study says, Moscow spends seven times less than it does on law enforcement, and eight times less than it does on the military. Russian spending on science constitutes 1.03 percent of GDP, far below that of the USSR in the past or leading countries today. (The US, for example, spends 3.07 percent and China, 2.23 percent of GDP.)

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