Volume 19 - Article 24 | Pages 907–972  

Russian Federation: From the first to second demographic transition

By Sergei Zakharov

This article is part of the Special Collection 7 "Childbearing Trends and Policies in Europe"


The demographic transition in Russia was accelerated by several social cataclysms during the "Soviet type" modernization. Frequent changes in the timing of births and marriages engendered a mass "abortion culture". Contraceptive devices of poor quality were produced on a limited scale. The Soviet regime promulgated pronatalism and considered contraception to contradict this ideology. There have been two waves of government policy interventions. In the 1930s and 1940s restrictive and propaganda measures prevailed. These failed to yield serious effects. In the 1980s, policies aimed at lessening the tension between full-time employment and maternal roles. These generated shifts in birth timing, namely shorter birth intervals and earlier second and third births, however increase in completed cohort fertility was minimal. A third wave started in 2007. Preoccupied with continuous depopulation, authorities intend to boost births by substantially increasing benefits. The mid-1990s was a turning point in the change of fertility and nuptiality models. The 1970s birth cohorts marry and become parents later. They delay first and second births and increasingly begin partnerships with cohabitation. Contraception is replacing abortion. New attitudes and perceptions about family, partnership, childbearing, and family planning are emerging. A major transformation typical for developed countries, the Second Demographic Transition, is underway. Nevertheless, many neo-traditional features of fertility and nuptiality remain. These distinguish Russia from most European countries and will persist in the near future. Completed fertility, however, hardly differs from the average European level.

Author's Affiliation

  • Sergei Zakharov - National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), Russian Federation EMAIL

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Childbearing among first- and second-generation Russians in Estonia against the background of the sending and host countries
Volume 36 - Article 41

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