Comprehensive analyses of fertility trends in the Russian Federation during the past half century

Tomas Frejka, Independent consultant
Sergei V. Zakharov, State University Higher School of Economics

The transformation of traditional childbearing patterns of early family formation to patterns of later family formation was the fundamental feature of the fertility trends of the past half century in Russia. The childbearing postponement and recuperation process commenced with the birth cohorts of the mid 1960s in the early 1990s and was still in progress in 2010. The past quarter century was also marked by waves of concern with low fertility and attempts to increase fertility. - Pro-natalist policy measures of the early 1980s advanced childbearing and raised TPFRs between 1981 and 1987. But the quantum of fertility remained unchanged among the 1950s birth cohorts around 1.9 births per woman. - A serious concern about low fertility at or below 1.3 births per woman from 1995 to 2006 led to the implementation of an extensive set of pro-natalist measures in 2007. Preliminary analyses indicate that the result of the 2007 policies was again to advance childbearing, and fertility quantum may apparently be retained around 1.6 births per woman. - It is obvious that the family policies of the 1980s failed to raise fertility. Preliminary analyses indicate that the fate of the 2007 policies could be similar. - In both cases the main emphasis of the policy sets was on material birth and child benefits, parental leaves and child care. Apparently insufficient attention was devoted to improving general social and economic conditions of young people, such as employment and living conditions, and promoting gender equality at home, at work and in other societal institutions. The question arises whether the efforts of the government and other entities to raise fertility during the 2010s will be strong enough and sufficiently effective to offset economic and social forces challenging childbearing. As of 2012 the outlook for a future fertility increase does not appear hopeful.

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Presented in Session 69: Fertility transition: the past and presence

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