Medvedev attempts to reverse Russia’s population decline

This is interesting:

Nov. 30, 2010 (MOSCOW) Russia’s president [Dmitry Medvedev] devoted the largest part of his annual State of Russia speech to reversing Russia’s population decline.

If Russian couples have a third child, they will get a baby bonus, better health care, and free land to build a house or dacha, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev promised in his annual State of Russia speech.

Political analysts were hoping to hear about missiles or democracy. Instead they got babies.

Twenty years ago, just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Kremlin ruled an empire with a population slightly larger than that of the United States. Today, Russia has less than half the population of the United States.

And Russia’s population of 142 million people is aging fast, a sign of bigger drops ahead, President Medvedev said.

The president said Russians will have to increase birth rates to overcome the demographic ax blow of the 1990s. Due to the post-communist economic collapse, there may not be enough fertile age women for Russia to maintain its population size. Mr. Medvedev, the father of one child, said two will not do. It must be three.

Mr. Medvedev also called for a Russia without orphanages. He said Russian families should adopt Russian children.

(Read the full article here.)

I’m of two minds about this. I agree that Russia’s population is in free-fall. I think having incentives to have three children is great and to include (and encourage) adoption of Russia’s orphans in this program is fantastic. But there are two problems:

One, a lot of Russia’s population demise is due to the staggering number of abortions they perform yearly, 53.7 per 1,000 women, the highest by far of any country according to the UN data. In fact, the number of abortions has kept pace with (and occasionally exceeded) the number of births annually. Looking more into the abortion industry and the resources available to pregnant women and new mothers seems necessary.

Two, the economy in Russia is such that the vast majority of people cannot afford even their own apartments, much less their own homes (even renting). A lot of times grown children have to live with their parents, even after marriage and this strongly discourages having children. For one thing, there’s just no room! Examining the root causes of poverty and addressing them would have to go hand-in-hand with birth incentives. How do you think they managed to have approximately 730,000 orphans? Quite a lot of these children were abandoned by parents unable to take care of them.

Given all of this, any solution to this problem will have to be multifaceted, hence “have more babies – here’s some money” seems grossly oversimplified. That being said however, the very fact that the Russian Federation’s president advocated such a pro-life action plan in his State of Russia speech is very encouraging. May God bless his efforts.

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