Staunton, July 27 – Russian politicians have become alarmed that the fertility rate in the country as a whole, the number of children per woman per life time, has fallen below 1.5, far below the replacement level of 2.2. But they have not emphasized that this is part of the second demographic revolution caused by education and urbanization, Dmitry Zakontyansky says.
In Moscow, the independent demographer points out, a rapidly growing urban center where women as well as men are increasing their educational attainments, the rate is well below one and perhaps only a third of the replacement level (spektr.press/dikie-rassuzhdeniya-demograf-dmitrij-zakotyanskij-o-tom-pochemu-predlozheniya-vlastej-rf-o-roste-rozhdaemosti-vedut-k-esche-bolshej-bednosti/).
As ever more Russians move into the cities and gain educations, they are likely to follow the Moscow pattern, something that will depress the fertility rate for the country as a whole still further, a trend against which current Russian government efforts such a maternal capital and restricting abortions will have only marginal impact.
Indeed, the demographer suggests, these efforts may have the effect of boosting the number of children born in primarily rural non-Russian areas, something that it is not clear the Kremlin wants, and do little to reverse the overall pattern of falling fertility rates in Russian cities.
Increasing the standard of living and even more involving men in childrearing more often and providing more reasons for optimism about the future would have a far greater impart on that Zakontyansky says. But he is dismissive of the idea that the war in Ukraine is playing a depressing role.
There are roughly 20 million people in the prime childbearing years. The Ukrainian war has reduced the number of young men in circulation in Russia by no more than 400,000 – and that figure is too small in percentage terms to explain what is happening among increasingly urbanized and educated Russians now.