Evaluating the contemporary Russia’s pronatalist family policy: evidence from demographic data and surveys

Sergei V. Zakharov, National Research University Higher School of Economics

Concern for low fertility in Russia led to the implementation of pronatalist measures in 2007. In recent years, fertility has returned to the political center stage in Russia. In this paper I discuss the success or failure of pronatalist policies using cohort fertility rates, as well as period fertility rates. The latter can be misleading because many couples may react to birth incentives by lowering the age at childbearing and shortening of birth intervals rather than increasing the number of births per woman. A meaningful assessment of the impact of a policy change on cohort fertility can only be made with a lag of at least 10 to 15 years following implementation of the policy, meaning that the results presented for the 2007 measures must be interpreted as preliminary. Nonetheless, this preliminary analysis of age-specific parity progression ratios, estimated based on period and cohort age-order-specific fertility tables (life table technique) casts doubt on the effectiveness of those measures. The findings of the low effectiveness of the pronatalist measures confirm the data from three waves of Russia's Generations and Gender Survey carried out in 2004, 2007 and 2011. Despite the fact that financial assistance to families with children was substantially increased and other measures were adopted, intentions to have additional children did not change. Estimates based on the GGS 2011 round show that intentions to have another child were virtually the same as in the 2004 and 2007 rounds. Even though the 2007 policies had been in place for five years, women’s intentions to have an additional child hardly changed. The fulfillment of intentions was also low and, more important, only marginally higher after 2007 than before. This comparison also appears to indicate a negligible impact of the 2007 policy measures.

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Presented in Session 86: Family policy and fertility