2021 (18), №3

Russian Pro-Natalist Policy and Its Hidden Dilemma

For citation: 

Latov, Y. V. & Latova, N. V. (2021). Russian Pro-Natalist Policy and Its Hidden Dilemma. Zhurnal Economicheskoj Teorii [Russian Journal of Economic Theory], 18(3), 389-402. https://doi.org/10.31063/2073-6517/2021.18-3.5.


The demographic policy of the Russian government, which aims to ‘preserve and increase the people’, combines two qualitatively different approaches to understanding the problem of population decline. Most often, the emphasis is placed on stimulating fertility, although there is also an understanding that it is important to raise the quality of their upbringing and education.
While the focus on increasing human capital is economically justified, the desire to increase the birth rate has no such justification. The theory of demographic transition proves that stimulating the birth rate is an erroneous goal. The ‘cash for babies’ policy applied in Russia is based on the conviction that children, even those born in poor and dysfunctional families, inevitably ‘pass’ through the education system and become qualified workers. On the basis of this stereotype, the system of pro-natalist incentives is built in such a way that, in accordance with the law of diminishing marginal utility, it creates stronger incentives for poorer families and is therefore actually aimed at increasing the birth rate primarily in the poor strata, having little effect on middle-class families. Meanwhile, modern theories of social capital and labor market signals prove the limited ability of schools and universities to play the role of social elevators. International studies (in particular, in the USA) shows that state benefits for children of poor and disadvantaged families contribute to the reproduction of a culture of poverty. Therefore, when the Russian authorities provide assistance primarily to low-income and single-parent families with children, they create problems for the future. The study proposes to replace the current policy based on the principle ‘more babies but cheaper’ with a policy aimed at middle-class families and based on the principle ‘less is more’. Thus, an orientation towards stimulating population growth is replaced by an orientation towards fostering human capital.

PDF full
Downloaded: 22

Yuriy V. Latov — Doctor of Sociological Sciences, PhD in Economics, Chief Researcher, Academy of Management of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation; https://orcid.org/0000–0001–7566–4192 (8, Zoi i Aleksandra Kosmodem’yanskikh St., Moscow, 125171, Russian Federation; e-mail: latov@mail.ru).

Natalia V. Latova — PhD in Sociological Sciences, Leading Researcher, Institute of Sociology of the Federal Scientific Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences; https://orcid.org/0000–0001–9315–2588 (24/35 building 5, Krzhizhanovskogo St., Moscow, 117218, Russian Federation; e-mail: myshona@rambler.ru).

Akerlof, G. & Kranton, R. (2011).  Ekonomika identichnosti. Kak nashi idealy i sotsial’nyye normy opredelyayut, kem my rabotayem, skol’ko zarabatyvayem i naskol’ko neschastny [Identity Economics: How our identities shape our work, wages, and well-being].  Moscow, Russia: Career Press, 2011. (In Russ.)

Archangelskiy, V. N. (2019). Dinamika rozhdayemosti na Severnom Kavkaze: igrayet li rol’ materinskiy kapital? [Fertility dynamics in the North Caucasus: do maternity subsidies make a difference].  Zhurnal issledovaniy sotsial’noy politiki [The Journal of Social Policy Studies], 17(1),  57–74. (In Russ.)

Vishnevsky, A. G. (2017). Nereshennyye voprosy teorii demograficheskoy revolyutsii [Unsolved problems in the Theory of Demographic Revolution].  Naseleniye i ekonomika [Population and Economics], 1(1),  3–21. (In Russ.)

Glushkova, V. G. & Khoreva, O. B. (2014) Demograficheskaya bezopasnost’ Rossii i yeye regionov: problemy i puti ikh resheniya [The demographic security of Russia and its regions: problems and solutions].  Finansy: teoriya i praktika [Finance: theory and practice], 3,  14–25. DOI: https://doi.org/10.26794/2587-5671-2014-0-3-14-25. (In Russ.)

Vishnevsky, A. G. (Eds.) (2006).  Demograficheskaya modernizatsiya Rossii, 1900–2000 [Demographic modernization in Russia, 1900–2000].  Moscow, Russia: Novoe izdatel’stvo, 608. Retrieved from: https://www.hse.ru/data/307/183/1235/modernizacija_vishnevski.pdf (Date of access:18.03.2021). (In Russ.)

Inglehart, R. & Welzel, Ch. (2011).  Modernizatsiya, kul’turnyye izmeneniya i demokratiya: Posledovatel’nost’ chelovecheskogo razvitiya [Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence].  Moscow, Russia: New Publishing House, 464. (In Russ.)

Easterly, W. (2006).  V poiskakh rosta: Priklyucheniya i zloklyucheniya ekonomistov v tropikakh [The elusive quest for growth].  Moscow, Russia: Institute for Comprehensive Strategic Studies, 342. (In Russ.)

Kapoguzov, E. A., Chupin, R. I. & Kharlamova, M. S. (2020). Narrativy semeynoy politiki v Rossii: fokus na regiony [Family policy narratives in Russia: focus on regions].  Journal of Economic Regulation, 11(3),  6–20. (In Russ.)

Kirilyuk, I. L. (2013). Modeli proizvodstvennykh funktsiy dlya rossiyskoy ekonomiki [Models of production functions for the Russian economy].  Komp’yuternye issledovaniya i modelirovanie [Computer Research and Modeling], 5(2),  293–312. (In Russ.)

Konstantinovsky, D. L. (2020). Preodoleniye bar’yerov v obrazovanii: issledovaniya i sotsial’naya praktika [Overcoming Barriers in Education: Research and Social Practice].  Sotsiologicheskaya nauka i sotsial’naya praktika [Sociological Science and Social Practice], 8(3),  125–133. DOI: https://doi.org/10.19181/snsp.2020.8.3.7491. (In Russ.)

Latov, Yu. V. (2021). Rost chelovecheskogo kapitala sontra rost rozhdayemosti [Human capital growth contra birth rate growth].  Zhurnal institutsional’nykh issledovaniy [Journal of Institutional Studies], 13(2),  82–99. DOI: 10.17835/2076–6297.2021.13.2.082–099. (In Russ.)

Razumova, T. O. & Kirichenko, E. V. (2012). Modifikatsiya teorii obrazovatel’nykh signalov na rynke truda vypusknikov vuzov Rossii [Modification of educational signaling theory on gradutes’ labor market in Russia].  Vestnik Voronezhskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya: Ekonomika i upravleniye [Proceeding of Voronezh State University. Series: Economics and Management], 1,  97–103. (In Russ.)

Sidorenko, A. (2019). Demograficheskiy perekhod i «demograficheskaya bezopasnost’» v postsovetskikh stranakh [Demographic transition and “demographic security” in post-Soviet countries].  Naseleniye i ekonomika [Population and economics], 3(3),  1–22. (In Russ.)

Tikhonova, N. E. (2020). Rossiyskiye professionaly: spetsifika rabochikh mest i chelovecheskogo potentsiala [Russian professionals: specifics of jobs and of human potential].  Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya [Sociological Studies], 10,  71–83. DOI: 10.31857/S013216250010300­3. (In Russ.)

Shiriaeva, Ya. D. & Zaostrovtsev, A. P. (2019). «Chayldfri»: ratsional’nyy vybor ili povedencheskaya miopiya? [“Childfree”: Rational Choice or Behavioral Myopia?].  Peterburgskaya sotsiologiya segodnya [Petersburg sociology today], 11,  99–119. (In Russ.)

Barro, R. J. & Becker, G. S. (1989). Fertility choice in a model of economic growth.  Econometrica, 57(2),  481–501.

Becker, G. (1964).  Human capital. A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education.  New York: National Bureau of Economic Research, 187.

Becker, G. S. (1991).  A Treatise on the Family.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 424.

Coleman, J. (1988). Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital.  American Journal of Sociology, 94,  95–120.

Gamoran, A. & Long, D. A. (2006). Equality of Educational Opportunity: A 40-Year Retrospective.  WCER Working Paper, 2006–9.

Schultz, T. (1971).  Investment in human capital: The role of Education and Research.  N.Y.; L.: The Free Press, 272.

Spence, M. (1973). Job market signaling.  Quarterly Journal of Economics, 87(3),  355–374.

Thompson, W. S. (1929). Population.  The American Journal of Sociology, 34(6),  959–975.

Vollset, S. E. et al. (2020). Fertility, mortality, migration, and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100: a forecasting analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study.  The Lancet, 396,  1285–1306.