Friday, January 15, 2021

Share of Russians without Children Who Don’t Want Them Up by 4.5 Times since 2015

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 11 – The share of Russians between the ages of 18 and 44 who say they do not want to have any children has risen from five percent in 2015 to 10 percent in 2017 to 22 percent last year, according to a study by Alla Makarentseva of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service,

            She says that the general trend toward fewer children among the increasingly urbanized population has been exacerbated in the past year by the impact of the pandemic which has led those who have seen their incomes drop decide not to take on new responsibilities and made those with personal ambitions also less willing to do so.

            Thus, Makarentseva says, in addition to its obvious demographic consequences, this trend shows that Russians – and men and women are roughly the same as far as this is concerned – are increasingly making all decisions on the basis of what their expectations for the future are (

            Today, when the future is uncertain, they are especially inclined to avoid doing anything that may make it more difficult for them to cope. But at the same time, she notes that childlessness among this age cohort is still relatively small – about 15 percent – and is partially compensated by an increase in the number of children among those who have two or more.

But in contrast to western European countries, where those with more children largely make up for the increasing share without children, in Russia this is not now the case, and in 2020, the fertility rate, the number of children per woman per lifetime, fell again to 1.5, far below the replacement level of 2.2.

This trend is leading to a decline in the share of the population children aged 0 to 15 compose. At present, it is down to 18.7 percent, but Rosstat predicts that it will fall to between 13.1 percent and 15.2 percent by 2036.

This has many implications, Makarentseva says. But one is obvious: “the Soviet standard – not less than one child but not more than two for a ‘model’ family – is already passe, and we are headed toward a more heterogenous society in which there will be childless families and others with large numbers of children.”

Laris Pautova of the Public Opinion Foundation is inclined to see the figures for this year as being driven by the pandemic and thus may change when it passes. But at the same time, the reaction of Russians to the pandemic shows that they are now more inclined to focus on themselves and those close to them rather than expecting all problems to be solved from above.

If that attitude persists, and she appears to think that is likely, then Russians will increasingly be ready to take responsibilities for their lives, something that will dramatically change society and relations between the society and the state.


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