The State Duma at an accelerated pace adopted amendments to the legislation ensuring the implementation of the initiatives of President Vladimir Putin to improve the demographic situation in the country. The tasks set out in the message to the Federal Assembly are positioned as regular measures to support families with children, which is not entirely correct. In fact, we are talking about creating prerequisites, primarily material ones, to increase the total fertility rate (the number of children born by one woman) to 1.7 by 2024 against the current 1.5. How achievable the goal was, "Profile" figured out.
One of the main changes is related to maternity (family) capital. Now parents can receive it after the birth of their first child. The only restriction is that the child must be born after January 1, 2020. The amount of the payment is currently 466.6 thousand rubles. In the future, maternity capital will increase annually by the inflation rate.
At the same time, the program, and this is another important initiative of the president, has been extended until 2026. Experience shows that maternity capital funds are used mainly for the purchase of housing. The stake is on the fact that families with the help of this money will be able to solve the housing problem, as they say, for the future. For example, planning the birth of a second or third child. An argument in favor of such a decision can be their own home, in which the kids will have their own room.
Russian regions with the highest population decline are listed
Families who previously received maternity capital will also benefit if new children appear in them. They are entitled to a "supplement" in the amount of 150 thousand rubles. Thus, new participants in the program will be able to receive from the state a total of 616.6 thousand rubles.
After the birth of the third child, the family is entitled to another payment in the amount of 450 thousand rubles, which, unlike maternity capital, can only be used to repay the mortgage loan. It is easy to calculate that parents with many children who became such after January 1, 2020 will receive more than 1 million rubles from the treasury to improve their living conditions. The amount is not so significant for Moscow or St. Petersburg, but in many regions it is about half the cost of an apartment or house.
Another measure to support families with children between the ages of three and seven, in which incomes per person are below the subsistence level, is monthly payments per child. The Ministry of Labor has prepared amendments to the state program "Social support of citizens". The amount of the payment will be different for each territory. Everything is determined by the subsistence minimum established in a particular region. This year, payments will average 5.5 thousand rubles a month, and next year, almost twice as much - 11.5 thousand rubles.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, this decision may affect an estimated 2.4 million people, and the budget costs in 2020 will amount to 159 billion rubles. Another 122.4 billion rubles will be allocated for payments under the new maternity capital scheme. Measures to increase the birth rate have been implemented over the past 13 years. In 2007, a strategy to support families with children was developed and maternity capital was introduced. Two years ago, the national project "Demography" was approved, which implies an increase in the total fertility rate to 1.7 children by 2024. Recall, according to the forecast of Rosstat, by 2024 the indicator may be in the range from 1.54 to 1.74. At the same time, even if the optimistic scenario is realized, the birth rate in Russia will remain lower than what is required for simple reproduction of the population - 2.1–2.2 children.
Deficiency of young mothers
Most experts believe that the measures taken by the state to support families with children had a certain positive impact in the period 2007-2015. The favorable trend was associated not so much with a change in attitudes towards having children (how many children the family plans to have), but with an improvement in external factors.The parents wanted to have a second child, but postponed these plans until a later time.
The introduction of maternity capital to many families helped speed up decision making. Although at the start, the program looked declarative. For example, there was a clause that the certificate for the mother capital could only be used after three years. The Finance Ministry proceeded from the premise that parents, first of all, mothers, supposedly still have to prove that children are the highest value for them and that they can not only “do” them, but also raise and educate them.
A typical accounting approach was guessed behind this, so as not to let the money be used for as long as possible. The explanations of the officials did not stand up to criticism simply because large families in which the older children not only went to primary school, but also reached adulthood, fell under the restrictions.
The 2008 crisis, when the government was forced to take emergency measures to save the economy and prevent the growth of social tension, became the reason for the abolition of the ridiculous "probationary period." However, the baby boom recorded in Russia in 2007 continued until 2015. Then the country plunged into a new crisis, aggravated by a demographic "wave" - a decrease in the birth rate in the 90s, when granddaughters born during the Great Patriotic War became mothers, and the economic difficulties of the period played a role.
Now the time has come when representatives of this small generation become parents themselves. However, even multi-billion dollar infusions to support motherhood and childhood are not able to fully compensate for the deficit in women of reproductive age. Moreover, statistics show that the decline in the birth rate has affected even the regions in which large families have traditionally been the norm.
Angles of incidence
The state faced the risks of depopulation - with a decrease in the population. According to forecasts, despite the measures taken, in the coming decades, the number of Russians will decrease, and by 2050, most likely, only about 142 million people will remain.
The President instructed to reduce the time for consideration of applications for capital
The solution to the problem in conditions of low fertility through migration seems to be quite controversial. The adaptation of migrants requires quite significant budgetary expenditures. In addition, the cultural attitudes of the newly converted citizens of the Russian Federation are far from always identical with the attitudes of the local population. Therefore, the modern model of state demographic policy is based on the revival of the values of a family raising two or more children.
However, traditional societies in most cases assume a patriarchal way of life, which is also characteristic of family relations. The factors that determine the birth rate are currently psychological and fundamentally different from the values of the traditional family. In countries with developed economies, children have ceased to be an economic help, their number does not depend on the social status of parents.
Even for simple reproduction, there should be 2.1–2.2 children per Russian woman. But such indicators are still very far away.
Shutterstock / Fotodom
The fertility model in developing countries is more consistent with the institutional structure of traditional society, when the solution to a significant part of life's problems is tied to the institution of the family. This is a joint economic activity, without which it is practically impossible to survive, looking after children and transferring knowledge, rest and providing in old age. It is unrealistic to fit such a model into a modern society, which is moving by leaps and bounds towards the sixth technological order.
Everybody's lying calendars
It seems that the systemic state support for families with children, in particular, aimed at creating additional motivation to give birth to the first child, can help achieve the set goal - to bring the total fertility rate to 1.7 children. It is expected that there will be a shift in the calendar of births by 2024. That is, families with a high degree of probability can make a decision on the birth of first-borns and subsequent children, as long as support measures are in place. The difficulty is that the number of women of reproductive age (15–49 years), in accordance with the forecast of Rosstat, will decrease by 2.8–3.5%.Therefore, even in the most favorable scenario, a decline in the birth of children by 20–36% is inevitable. Nothing can be done about this - increasing the total fertility rate to the level of 2.1–2.2 children is an unattainable task by definition.
Until now, none of the European countries have been able to solve it. Even the most “giving birth” countries - France, Ireland, Sweden, Albania and Montenegro - had a total fertility rate of 1.8 in 2019. To reverse the unfavorable trend, it is necessary to transform the current model of social policy, placing a stake on the upbringing of family values in general and the birth of children in particular. Families with small children need not only benefits and one-time payments (matkapital or targeted payments to pay off a mortgage of 150 thousand rubles).
Systemic changes in the labor market are ripe, for example, the adoption of long-term programs for the development of family entrepreneurship, the creation of a social infrastructure that allows parents to combine household responsibilities and raising children with professional implementation. There is no contradiction here. The combination of work and family aspirations actually contributes to an increase in fertility. OECD data show that countries in which women are more involved in economic activities have consistently high fertility rates.
With the help of the system of family allowances, it is possible to increase the income of temporarily unemployed parents, taking into account their dependent burden. Of course, this will be support for many families with children, but under the existing wage system it will not save everyone from poverty.
Another step can be considered an increase in the share of budgetary expenditures on family and maternity benefits to 2.2% of GDP. The task was set back in 1996 in a presidential decree on the main directions of state family policy. Unfortunately, things did not go beyond declarations of intent. Moreover, the ratio of treasury expenditures on family and maternity benefits to GDP in Russia decreased from 1% in 1996 to 0.9% in 2016. The dynamics indirectly testifies that family policy has yet to become a national priority in Russia.
The author is Professor of the Department of Population, Moscow State University. M.V. Lomonosov