The First One in 15 Years
Something must be going right in Russia's economy and society. A significant increase in the birth rate of a country is only possible when more people have faith in their incomes and hope for the future. Some demographic experts attribute the recent growth in births to President Putin's policy of making payments to Russian mothers, while others think that it's just a coincidence.
On Friday the Kansas Times newspaper quoted the Russian Health and Social Development minister's happy announcement. According to new government statistics, last year the Russian Federation witnessed the highest number of children born since the collapse of the Soviet Union fifteen years ago.
In her remarks to the news media, Mrs. Golikova praised the maternity incentives implemented by the Russian government last year, including higher payments for mothers of children under 18 months, social benefits for unemployed mothers, and payouts of about $9,500 for the birth of two or more children (so called "baby-money").
"Russia has not seen such a baby boom for 15 years, the highest number of births since 1991," Mrs. Golikova said, adding that 1.6 million babies were born last year. Overall, Russia recorded 122,750 more live births in 2007 than in 2006.
Demographic issues are widely seen as one of the main threats to the stability of modern Russia, as the country seeks to build a modern economy and recover from the economic hardships of the 1990s. Many Russian government officials and economists are concerned that Russia could face a severe shortage of qualified workers over the next several decades. According to United Nations estimates, Russia's population, currently measured at about 142 million people, could fall by over 30 percent by the year 2050.