Staunton, October 26 – The number of births in Russia has fallen by 23.7 percent over the last five years, Anna Kuznetsov, the ombudsman for children’s rights, says, with the fertility rate (the number of children per woman per lifetime) falling over the last three years from 1.62 to 1.5, far below the replacement level of 2.2 (versia.ru/v-rossii-rezko-upala-rozhdaemost).
The pandemic and the economic crisis associated with this is only intensifying this trend, making it virtually impossible to reverse its current population decline anytime soon, despite Kremlin suggestions that things will soon turn the corner and births will rise because of the government’s continuing pro-natalist policies.
Lyubov Khapylina, a specialist on social policy at the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service, says that such pessimism reflects “a number of factors,” including the continuing impact of World War II losses, the demographic “hole” of the 1990s, and also the increasing rarity of large families.
The pandemic and the outflow of immigrant workers is adding to this trend. But she argues that “the main cause” of falling birthrates in Russia is “the poor material status of families and the growth of poverty,” trends the Russian government has so far failed to counter.
Looming on the horizon is another factor that may depress Russian birthrates still further. Leyla Namazova-Baranova, the head of the Union of Pediatricians of Russia, says that there is evidence that those who have been infected by the coronavirus may become infertile (ura.news/news/1052455899).
If that proves to be the case, millions of young Russians might find themselves unable to have children even if the pandemic passes and the economy recovers, something that will case a shadow on the future almost as long as the much-cited World War II losses have.
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