Staunton, June 30 – Vladimir Putin’s maternal capital program has done little to boost birthrates in Russia, but that should not have come as a surprise as pro-natalist programs even far better funded in other countries have not succeeded in doing so either. But the program is valuable, Aleksey Mikhailov says, because it has limited poverty among Russian children.
International experience shows, the Moscow analyst says, that governments can have an impact on demographic behavior but more on the negative than the positive side. Thus, China’s one-child policy worked, but well-funded European programs to boost birthrates have not (profile.ru/economics/item/118170-kupit-rebenka).
Indeed, Mikhaylov says, there are almost no examples of successful programs to boost birthrates. Instead, there are two common trends: “the better people live, the fewer children they have” but at the same time, if people become poorer, they also will have fewer children. In short, to influence demographic behavior in a positive way is almost impossible.
But that doesn’t mean that Moscow should, as some are now suggesting, eliminate or severely cut the maternal capital program. Instead, the analyst argues, Russians should see it as helping to address “the traditional tasks of social policy, the reduction of the level of poverty and inequality.”
Indeed, understood in this way, the maternal capital program should be expanded because while it does not do enough, it can prevent many children and their parents from falling into poverty. That is a noble goal, and it is one that far too few Russian government programs are now focused on.