chapter  4
20 Pages

“Our Nation is Dying”: Interpreting Patterns of Childbearing in Post-Soviet Russia

WithCynthia Gabriel

This chapter explains about interpreting patterns of childbearing in post-soviet Russia and challenges of the view that the economic crises have caused the decline in Russian births. The medical approach to childbearing in Russia emphasizes the cultural desirability of early childbearing. This cultural-medical construction of appropriate childbearing age is hard to understand in light of the extreme concern most Russians, including birth professionals, express about the low birthrate. Viewing Russia’s birthrate in the context of falling European birthrates changes the usual discourse. Instead of an indication of economic pathology, the below replacement birthrate in Russia can be seen as part of demographic trends in industrialized countries. Just as Russian medical professionals define 18-28 years old as the most appropriate and healthy ages for giving birth to children, Russian grandparents also contribute to the cultural discourse about appropriate childbearing ages. Low life expectancies, true for both men and women, dramatically influence the availability of grandparent-provided childcare.