Russia Allows Citizens Time Off to Have Babies as Underpopulation Worsens

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 15, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Russia Allows Citizens Time Off to Have Babies as Underpopulation Worsens Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 15,

Moscow, Russia ( — The Russian region of Ulyanovsk has a unique way to respond to the underpopulation crisis plaguing the nation as a result of years of unlimited abortions. It is allowing its citizens time off from work to make a baby and will award prizes to those who give birth on the nation’s annual holiday next year.

The regional government has declared September 12 the Day of Conception and wants workers to go home and procreate.

Couples who then give birth on June 12 during the nation’s holiday can win anything from cash prizes to cars to refrigerators.

Ulyanovsk, which is about 550 miles east of Moscow, has conducted similar contests since 2005, according to the Denver Post, and the number of participants and prizes awarded each year has risen.

The Russian population has been shrinking since the 1990s as abortion became a means of birth control. The nation is the largest in the world but it has just 141.4 million citizens — less than half of the United States.

President Vladimir Putin, in May, defined the crisis as the nation’s biggest problem and the government is offering hefty bonuses to women who have a second child.

Putin has also focused on adoption to promote the population and foreign adoptions of Russian children are on the decline. He has asked parliament to increase to $166 per month the stipend given to families that adopt children.

The number of abortions in Russia is now about 1.5 million annually, just under the number of births there, which number 1.6 million per year.

New figures show that abortions are on the decline there, but some estimates indicate as many as 10-15 percent of all abortions aren’t recorded by the government meaning abortions probably still outnumber births there.

The underpopulation crisis is producing problems such as worker shortages and an inability to support the country’s elderly population.

Many European countries have long had policies and programs in place that are intended to raise the birth rate by offsetting some of the costs and consequences of childbearing.

The Russian government has been working to address the problem and has given couples a one-time bonus where it provides parents with a fixed sum of money. Each family receives a bonus of $9,600 following the birth of a second child and any subsequent children.

That’s a huge sum of money in a country where the average monthly salary is $330.

Steven Mosher, the president of the Population Research Institute, says the policies have not been working, in part because the nations continue to fund and promote abortion on demand.

"Allowing women to act on their fertility preferences would further increase fertility, thus creating more vital and irreplaceable human capital," he says.

Russia’s birthrate has been on the decline for decades and, in 2004, was just 1.17 babies per woman. It was twice as much in 1990, according to the Federal State Statistics Service. Population demographers say that 2.4 children born per woman is necessary for any nation to sustain its population.

The result of these dynamics put together is seen in a recent UN report that shows the Russian population shrinking by one-third by 2050.