Staunton, Mar. 19 – Most Russian and Western analysts compare fertility rates in the Russian Federation by region rather than by municipality, Artur Petrosyan says in a new study, an approach that understates how diverse the latest demographic transition is in the Russian Federation.
In 2017-2019, the HSE demographer says, the average woman in Russia had 1.58 children per lifetime, well below the 2.1 needed to reproduce the population; and 65 percent of the population of the Russian Federation lived in regions where the average number was below that figure (“Births in Municipalities of Russia in 2011-2019,” Demograficheskoye obozreniye 8:3 (2021) summarized at iq.hse.ru/news/578262522.html).
Moreover, at that time, Petrosyan says, “only 10.6 percent of Russians lived in municipalities where the fertility rate was above 2.1,” patterns that had the effect of understating the diversity of the demographic transition. The real diversity, he says, is to be found not at the regional level but at the level of municipalities.
His research found that in Moscow and Moscow oblast the fertility rate was 1.68; in Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast, it was 1.45, in middle sized cities, it ranged from 1.4 to 1.73 but in cities of 10,000 to 25,000, it was 1.96; and in settlements of an urban type of less than 10,000, it was 2.18. Thus, only in the last was it above replacement levels.
That pattern held in almost all regions, Petrosyan continues. In some places where fertility rates were very high in rural areas such as Muslim republics and Tyva, there were at the same time quite low in most of their cities. And unless that pattern is recognized, funds designed to boost population growth will be incorrectly directed.
While more research is needed, he suggests that this pattern reflects both migration patterns within and between regions and differences in age structure, average incomes in cities of various sizes and availability of hospitals. It may also, he concedes, be in part a statistical artefact because of where people choose to register their children.