• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Where the Babies are Booming

Which Russian regions have the highest birthrates?

ISTOCK

The birthrate across Russia is not uniform: in some areas, people have children earlier in life, and in some, later. Some regions and municipalities have a very high TFR (total fertility rate), such that women under 50 have far more children than usual. Sometimes, this figure is double the 2.1 children per family required just to replace one generation with the next. But in some regions, this figure can be as low as 1.0. These contrasts reflect various populations’ differing demographic outlooks and the dynamics of their respective regions, as well as the extent to which their residents adhere to traditional norms of reproductive behaviour. On the whole, almost no large areas with high birthrates remain in Russia. Here, IQ.HSE studies current trends based on an article by demographer Artur Petrosyan.

The Reproductive Puzzle

Fertility fluctuates much more widely among Russia’s municipalities than among its regions. For example, one district in Tuva has a TFR of more than 4.8, which is comparable to Tanzania. In one district of Udmurtia, meanwhile, this figure reaches 3.45—almost on a par with Pakistan. With a TFR of 2.77, The Domodedovo district compares to Syria. Some Russian regions have a birthrate closer to 1.86, as in France, while others have a much lower figure of 1.35, like in the Netherlands. Some have fertility rates that are even lower still, resembling those in Singapore (1.14) and Korea (0.92).

HSE demographer Artur Petrosyan cites such results in his article. His new work makes it possible to perform the first-ever detailed study of the differentiation of local Russian fertility patterns.

TFR in a number of Russian municipalities, 2017-2019

 

TFR range

Russian region

TFR

Comparable foreign country

TFR

More than 4

Dzun-Khemchiksky district, Tuva

4.87

Tanzania

4.83

3–4

Alnashsky district, Udmurtia

3.45

Pakistan

3.45

2.5–3

Domodedovo, Moscow region

2.76

Syria

2.77

2.15–2.5

Kuvandyk city district, Orenburg region

2.22

Peru

2.23

2–2.15

Borzinsky district, Zabaikalsky region

2.07

Kuwait

2.07

1.75–2

Krasninsky district, Lipetsk region

1.86

France

1.87

1.58–1.75

Tikhoretsky District, Krasnodar region

1.64

U.K.

1.65

1.25–1.58

Kingiseppsky district, Leningrad region

1.5

Finland

1.35

1–1.25

Ketovsky district, Kurgan region

1.12

Singapore

1.14

Less than 1

Malokarachaevsky district, Karachay-Cherkessia 

0.92

South Korea

0.92


Source: calculated by A. Petrosyan according to Federal State Statistics Service data, posted in the Database of Indicators of Municipalities and the Unified Interdepartmental Information and Statistical System.

Note: birthrates close to the level of simple population replacement are highlighted in yellow; the average Russian indicator—1.58—is highlighted in green

The average TFR in Russia was 1.58 in 2017-2019. The study showed that almost two-thirds (65%) of the population lives in areas with a TFR below this level. Only 10.6% of Russians live in municipalities where this coefficient is higher than 2.1 (the level of simple population replacement).

 

Mostly small municipalities with smaller populations have birthrates of 2.15 births per woman. These are predominantly poorly urbanised outlying areas.

The publication and dissemination of such detailed and pinpoint fertility figures can help improve regional policy in planning and building social infrastructure, for example.

TFR for groups of Russian municipalities, by population

 

Group of municipalities, by population

TFR

Moscow and the Moscow region

1.68

St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region

1.45

Cities with populations of one million or more

1.4

Populations of 500,000 — 1 million

1.34

250,000 — 500,000

1.41

100,000 — 250,000

1.56

50,000 — 100,000

1.63

25,000 — 50,000

1.73

10,000 — 25,000

1.96

Fewer than 10,000 inhabitants

2.18

Source: calculated by A. Petrosyan according to Federal State Statistics Service data, posted in the Database of Indicators of Municipalities and the Unified Interdepartmental Information and Statistical System.

By stages of demographic transition

Overall, we see that the population’s reproductive behaviour is modernising. This is usually most evident at the regional and national levels, with changes occurring at different speeds—although birthrates overall are rather inertial.

 

The picture in the municipalities contributes to this motley ‘puzzle’ with a wide range of trends, including the following main ones:

 The concentration of young people in the major cities resulting from educational and labour migration compensates for the decline in the number of births.

 Smaller urban districts have a higher birthrate than the average in the larger cities. This is due to local factors: the location of the districts (such as in the Far North where there is a higher percentage of young people) or the nature of the urbanisation (the semi-rural lifestyle in small and medium-sized towns).

 The below-average birthrates in cities with populations of approximately 1 million or more reveal a significant gap in how attractive Moscow and St. Petersburg (the most developed agglomerations) are on the one hand, and Russia’s other largest cities are, on the other.

 The process of suburbanisation (the outflow of residents, including many young families, to the suburbs) has not yet had a significant influence on the birthrate in Russia’s two largest cities.

One way or the other, demographic modernisation—that is reflected, among other things, in declining birthrates—‘has lowered the birthrates even in populous regions with traditionally higher birthrates, such as Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Tuva and Altai’, the researcher emphasized. Women are also giving birth later in life, causing an ‘aging’ of motherhood. Small cities are gradually following the pattern of larger ones, with mothers most often having their first child not in the 20-24 age range, but between the ages of 25 and 29.

The picture among regions is more homogenous than among cities. ‘For the regions, the range between the minimum and maximum TFR value is 1.85 births per woman, whereas that figure reaches a much greater differentiation of 3.91 births among municipalities,’ Artur Petrosyan explained.

Municipal ‘Poles’

Interesting results are also obtained by calculating the birthrate by another measure—the number of births per 1,000 inhabitants, producing the crude birth rate (CBR). Thus, in some municipalities of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and Tuva, as well as in the Leninsky urban district of the Moscow region where one of the largest perinatal centers in the Moscow region is located, the CBR reaches a very significant value of 25-30 births per 1,000 inhabitants.

The high birthrates in these municipalities is a result of the large proportion of young people in the population. Ethno-cultural factors also contribute to the high birthrates. These include the preservation of the traditional family life (with large families marked by gender and generational hierarchies and the preference of sons over daughters), as well as the religious factor.

Minimum CBR values were noted in the urban districts of Novaya Zemlya in the Arkhangelsk region and Slavy in the Tula region—1.3 and 3.6 births per 1,000 inhabitants, respectively. ‘Military units are stationed in both areas and so the gradual rotation of the population through the areas, as well as the absence of maternity hospitals explains why a larger proportion of births is registered outside these territories’, the researcher explained.

Low CBR values are typical for outlying municipalities of the regions in European Russia. These have few drivers of economic growth such as large urban settlements and most jobs are in the non-profit sector of education, healthcare and civil service. It is from such areas that young people migrate in the greatest numbers.

Indicators often vary widely within individual regions as well. In addition to the CBRs of 25-30 births per 1,000 inhabitants, there are other noteworthy figures in the national republics mentioned above. For example, Grozny, Chechnya has a CBR of 22.6 per 1,000 inhabitants, Kaspiysk, Dagestan — 15.9, Karabulak, Ingushetia — 9.7, and Magas, Ingushetia — 14.5.

Pockets of Large Families

Outlying, non-urbanised areas retain relatively high birthrates at older ages because families have three or more children. Thus, the CBR for the rural population of the Arkhangelsk region in 2018 was a record 4.77 births per woman.

The researcher explained that this might be because such populations have lower incomes and therefore react more favourably to pronatalist demographic policies. Such measures include maternity subsidies that the federal government has provided since 2007 and that some regions also offer, as well as housing loans, maternity payments, child benefits, etc.

 

Although financial stimuli do increase the birthrate, of course, research indicates that the effects are not lasting. Unsurprisingly, demographers note that in the last decade, when the maternity subsidy was a relatively new and popular measure, the birthrate peaked in 2014 before giving way to a gradual decline as the situation stabilised. Preliminary data also indicate that the number of births did not increase in 2021.

The ‘Migration Bonus’

People migrate from Russia’s less developed areas to those that are more prosperous, such as regional centres. For example, healthcare is subpar in the municipalities of underdeveloped Tuva and Kalmykia. As a result, in the absence of other large cities—other than regional capitals in which healthcare facilities (including hospitals and perinatal centres) are concentrated—there is an ‘increase in the proportion of regional centres in terms of the number of births’. An example of the opposite is Belgorod, where ‘migration’ contributes much less to the birthrate. First, interregional migrants there are older on average and, second, many of the region’s municipalities have obstetric facilities.

However, purely statistical phenomena, such as the registration of newborns, can also affect the birthrate. According to the law ‘On acts of civil status’, a childbirth can be registered at the place where it occurred as well as at the locality where the parents are registered, with the former being the most common since 2015. Thus, ‘additional births’ can arise ‘due to the high proportion of citizens who live in a locality in a region without holding registration there’, the researcher noted.

Births are concentrated in regional centres, due both to migration and the peculiarities of registering demographic events. This figure rose from 36.5% to 42.8% in 2011-2019, the researcher found, even while the population in such centres clearly grew more slowly—from 39% to 40.9%.

Uniformity of Processes

There is a certain ‘uniformity’ to birthrate parameters, both in terms of patterns in the age of motherhood and the overall downward trend in indicators. The birthrate continues to vary widely among municipalities, although these variations are decreasing due to the continued decline in areas with high TFR.

Few regions and municipalities remain in which fertility significantly exceeds the level of simple population replacement, indicating that demographic modernisation continues in Russia. Still, this overall process occurs at a different pace and intensity in different regions.
IQ
 

Author of the study:
Artur Petrosyan, postgraduate student, Vishnevsky Institute of Demography, HSE
Author: Olga Sobolevskaya, April 01