Fatherhood in Russia between 1970 and 2004: the male perspective of family and fertility behavior in a changing society

Alich, D.
307 pages. Rostock, Universität Rostock (2009)


The breakdown of the Soviet Union in the early 90s was accompanied by and was the result of drastic societal, political, and economic changes, altering individual life courses in nearly every possible way and with it demographic behavior. These changes particularly affected the fertility and nuptiality behavior of young Russians. During this exceptional period, birthrates strongly declined. In parallel, the formation patterns of marital and non-marital unions altered remarkably: Young Russians formed non-marital cohabitations more often but married more seldomly or postponed marriage to higher ages. Consequently, the fertility and nuptiality behavioral patterns of Russians observed during the 1990s and into the new millennium varied strongly from the homogeneous and universal parenthood and marriage patterns during Soviet times. The aim of this dissertation is to enhance existing research approaches on the fertility and nuptiality changes in Russia by adding a male perspective in order to gain deeper insights into its causes. Empirical data on Russian men from the “Generations and Gender Survey” (GGS) and the related sample “Education and Employment Survey” (EES) have been analyzed, with the central research question having been: To what extent and in which ways has the altered family and fertility behavior of Russian men been the result of the societal transformation in the Soviet Union respectively the Russian Federation? Searching for an answer, we divide our analysis into single units. First, general patterns of family formation are analyzed – namely men’s transition to fatherhood and their transition to first union (marital and/or non-marital). Second, men’s employment status and their educational career are elaborated as the main determinants of individual fertility and nuptiality decisions. This work provides an essential contribution to the discussion of whether Russia’s demographic development follows other European pattern – particularly in regard to the Second Demographic Transition (SDT) approach. It is shown that the cultural changes - as claimed by the SDT - form just one aspect in the explanation of male family and fertility behavior. Rather, it is necessary to access the altered fertility and nuptiality decisions males exhibited during the 1990s and in the new millennium as adaptive demographic behavior in a fast and strongly changing society.
Keywords: Russian Federation, family, fertility, society
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.