Monday, July 12, 2021

Far Fewer Abortions are Taking Place in Russia Now, but Statistics about Them have Deteriorated, HSE Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 7 –Russia has significantly reduced the number of abortions over the last several decades both in absolute terms and relative to the number of live births, experts at the HSE’s Institute of Demography say. But Russian officials have changed the way such events are classified without consulting specialists thus making an evaluation of the progress harder.

            All too often the HSE demographers say, those looking at the data act as if figures from one year are comparable to those in earlier years, something that is not true in many cases; and they only come to recognize this when they see that the categories from one year to another have been changed without explanation (

            Some of the changes may in fact be rational and justified, the demographers say; but many, including age structure and cause, appear indefensible. It is not clear what the government officials hope to achieve besides making it far more difficult to speak with a high degree of accuracy about what is going on.

            In a detailed article, the HSE demographers trace the numerous changes that Russian statistics about abortions have undergone over the last 20 years, ranging from information about termination of pregnancy in different kinds of medical facilities, gathered by different institutions, and presented in different categories from one year to the next.

            The general pattern is clear enough even if one relies on official statistics alone, but those statistics from the point of view of scholarly analysis are deteriorating; and that in turn means that scholars Russian and otherwise will not be able to offer the explanations of demographic phenomena now and in the future that they could only a few years ago.


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