Journal Article

The apparent failure of Russia’s pronatalist family policies

Russia has a history of pronatalist policies dating back to the 1930s. Two sets of pronatalist measures were implemented during the past 40 years. The one designed in the early 1980s proved to be a clear failure. Instead of raising fertility, completed cohort fertility declined from 1.8 births per woman for the 1960 birth cohort to 1.6 for the 1968 cohort. The government of President Putin became concerned with the dire demographic conditions of high mortality and low fertility in Russia in the 1990s and early 2000s. A comprehensive set of pronatalist measures came into effect in January 2007. The period total fertility rate increased from 1.3 births per woman in 2006 to 1.6 in 2011, which the authorities view as an unqualified success. An unbiased demographic evaluation as well as analyses of Russian experts reveals that apparently the measures mainly caused a lowering of the age at birth and shortening of birth intervals. It appears that any real fertility increase is questionable, i.e. cohort fertility is not likely to increase appreciably. The recent pronatalist measures are likely to turn out to be a failure.