Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Nations in Russia with the Traditional Family Values Kremlin Wants Aren’t the Russians But Rather North Caucasians, Tyvans and Kalmyks

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 31 – Over the last decade, Vladimir Putin has celebrated traditional family values as the proper goal of Russians; but an examination of how the various nations inside the Russian Federation behave finds that the peoples who follow the values he says he supports are not the ethnic Russians but the North Caucasians, Tyvans, and Kalmyks, Aby Shukyurov says.

            The To Be Precise journalist says that Putin and his regime have promoted as traditional values women giving birth early and often and avoiding abortions rather than delaying the formation of families or limiting their size for the sake of career (

            But if one considers the demographic behavior of the various peoples of the Russian Federation, Shukyurov continues, the true exemplars of these values aren’t the ethnic Russians Putin claims to speak for but the Muslim North Caucasians, the Buddhist Tyvans and the Buddhist Kalmyks.

            Among these peoples, families have two or three children with the first arriving when the mother is between 23 and 25, abortions are not widespread, and the use of contraceptives is also very low, demographers say. At the other end of the scale are the Russians in St. Petersburg, Smolensk Oblast and Altay Kray.

            Moscow and Moscow Oblast would be in the latter category except for the existence of numerous private clinics which carry out abortions that are not recorded in most official statistics and where birth tourism – when people from outside a region come into a city for births – is widespread.

            Demographers say that Russia has “at a minimum” three kinds of families: First, those in the millionaire cities, in the first instance Moscow and St. Petersburg, where families have only one child, both parents work, contraception is widespread, and the birth of the first child is typically delayed until the mother is 28.

            Second, low-income families in rural Russia where women given birth but quicky return to work, begin having children at age 25, and plan to have two children but sometimes have three if their incomes rise. These families widely use contraceptives but often do not do so effectively, Shukyurov says.

            And third – and this is typical mostly in non-Russian areas, the To Be Precise journalist continues -- women have children earlier starting at age 23 and have three or more children, don’t work outside the home, are totally dependent on their husbands, and do not use contraceptives or abortions.

            But even in the last, only two regions – Chechnya and Tyva – are women having more children than the replacement level of 2.2. In Chechnya, the average number of children per woman per lifetime is 2.7; and in Tyva, 2.5. At the other end, in Leningrad Oblast, the corresponding figure is 0.88, with Moscow and other Russian regions also very low.

            At present, there is much public discussion of banning abortions to help boost the number of children; but abortions in Russia have long ceased to be the problem that they were earlier. In fact, the number of abortions registered in the Russian Federation has fallen from 1.2 million in 2005 to only 179,000 in 2022. Abortions are no longer a primary means of birth control.

            As one would expect, the very lowest level of abortions is found in the North Caucasus; and the very highest in predominantly Russian regions outside of cities where contraceptives are less widely and effectively used. But in Russian cities, they are likely higher than reported because greater role of private clinics.

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