Every Fifth Married Russian has More Children than He or She Wants, Sociologist Says

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 18, 2018)

Seventy-five percent of married couples in Russia have children, but only 55 percent say they would like to have them, according to a 17-year-long study by Yuliyz Lezhnina of the Institute for Social Policy of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (rosbalt.ru/moscow/2018/11/17/1746996.html)

Having children is still the basis for marriage in 20 percent of all cases, she says, but as many as 55 percent say they would like to have children, 10 percent one, 30 percent two, and 15 percent three or more. But in reality, 75 percent of married pairs have children, 34 percent one, another third two, and seven percent three or more.

That means, Lezhnina says, that “in many families there are more children than they would like or that they simply have become parents without in general planning to do so. One way or the other, each fifth resident of the country is raising children which he or she didn’t want. In rural areas, this phenomenon is encountered more often than in cities.”

She adds that the childfree movement and single sex marriages are becoming more common but not so much that one could as of now speak of any trend in that direction. But the change does mean that there is less support for boosting family size as a means of solving Russia’s demographic problems.

These findings are not the only piece of bad demographic news to surface in the last few days. Kommersant reports on the basis of the same study that as a result of educational gains among women relative to men over the last 20 years, the share of women who marry men with less education than they have is rising (kommersant.ru/doc/3799855).

In 1995, 31.3 percent of women married men who were less educated than they; by 2015, that figure had risen to 37.1 percent. Because that pattern means that women can earn more outside the home, that will further depress the number willing to stay at home and have children, thus further compromising the Kremlin’s plans for a boost in the birthrate anytime soon.