Russia Birth Rate Up, But Abortion and Economy Still Devastating Population

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 18, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Russia Birth Rate Up, But Abortion and Economy Still Devastating Population

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 18
, 2009

Moscow, Russia ( — The Russian nation is desperately in need of people as the prevalence of abortions has caused such severe problems that it has ravaged the nation’s workforce. While some government-sponsored efforts have helped, the troubled economy and continued abortions are crippling the country.

Underpopulation is rampant in Russia, which is seeing worker shortages that are hampering the economy and companies across the country. The nation’s population shrank by 12 million people in the last 16 years alone.

The federal and local governments have sponsored everything from educational campaigns to contests to direct cash payments for parents of newborn children to spark a birth rate increase.

Posters carry nationalistic slogans, such as a picture of a woman with three children and the words "Love for your nation, starts with the family."

In January, President Dmitry Medvedev said the efforts had been successful, with the birth rate up 8 percent in 2008 and six percent in 2008. But it doesn’t take a mantic person to see future declines resulting from a poor economy that is prompting Russian women to continue having abortions at high rates.

A recent United Nations report indicates the Russian population will fall from 142 million in 2008 to 116 million by 2050 unless action is taken.

According to a new AFP news article, the economy-abortion combination is beginning to take its toll as Russia’s state statistics agency Rosstat recorded 270,800 births in January and February, down by 3,700 from last year.

"At this rate, the crisis could reduce to nothing all the government’s efforts of the last years to stimulate births," Valentina Petrenko, head of Russian upper house’s committee for social policy and health, told AFP. "The risk of losing employment is in a big way linked to pregnancy and caring for young children. Expectant mothers and women, as a rule, are the first to be laid off."

A new poll of Russian women confirmed the problem. Just five percent say they plan to have a baby in the next two years.

AFP interviewed Andrei Akopyan, the head doctor at one of Moscow’s abortion centers, who predicted more abortions given the economy.

Khazem Alsoabi, an abortion practitioner, agreed.

"There are, of course, already more women who want to have abortions," Alsoabi said. "The reasons I hear are financial, there’s no question of that."

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