Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dec 12: Putin population policy

About 15 minutes of the 1.5-hour address was devoted to the demographic situation. We managed to transcribe the speech and translated it into English to share with you below.

Mr. Putin expressed his conviction that in the future having 3 children per family should become a norm. This should be achieved through a range of financial benefits for families with 2nd and 3rd children, helping women reconcile family and work and improving lodging conditions for lower middle class families. While the President underlined many times that his Government will do its best to ensure that women’s needs are met when deciding whether to have a child (state solutions should be based on combatting the reasons that population does not want to have children), last (2011) year had seen a number of restrictions imposed to women’s access to abortion.

Full speech (1,5 hours):

Part on demography (14 minutes) :  (some parts are missing here and are available in the full speech)

(script of the speech translated from Russian below)

  • By the beginning of the year 2000, the population of Russia was reducing by 1 million annually. It seemed impossible to stop this catastrophy.
  • After the launch of demographic programmes the population of the country stabilised, starting from the year 2010 is started to increase. This is our key achievement.
  • Stability is the main condition for developing and improving life conditions (and people believed the government!)
  • For Russia to be sovereign and powerful - we have to be "more" and we have to be "better" in our morals, competences, work, creativity
  • Today the rate of working population 20-40 years in Russia is the largest among the developed countries in the world. But in 20 years this number can decrease by 1,5 times. This tendency will continue if we do nothing. We have to open life opportunities for these generations: have interesting jobs, launch businesses, get housing, establish big and strong families, raise many children, be happy in their own country.
  • Otherwise just in few decades Russia will become a poor, hopelessly old by age country, unable to keep its independence and even its territory.
  • Demographic programmes adopted in last decade are working.
  • Population not only stabilised but started to grow. In January- September 2012 population grew by 200 000 persons. 5 months in a row (first time ever in the newest history of the country) - we are registering a natural increase of population. Birthrates became higher than death rates.
  • Life expectancy today has increased by 2,5 years (for the past 4 years) and is over 70 years now.
  • We have adopted a programme of providing "Family capital" for the birth of the second child - it is successful. It will be in force till the end of the year 2016.
  • But I do not want to push our women to the birth of the second child! Our women know themselves what and when  to do. But we need to inform our citizens. We also need to think what to do with this programme after year 2016.
  • As of year 2013 we will start providing additional benefits for third and following children - in those regions, where demographic situation is worse than the country average. These are 50 Federation subjects: central, north-west, trans-Volga and far-East federal districts.
  • Besides I remind all heads of Federation subjects the need to develop own programmes of demographic development.
  • Demographers stress that choice of the second child represent a potential choice for the third child. It is important that the family takes this step.
  • Although some experts that I respect are doubtful about it, I am convinced: the norm in Russia should be a family with 3 children.
  • But to ensure this a lot needs to be done. We need to create favorable conditions first and foremost for women. So that they should not fear that 2nd and following child would close their way to careers and good jobs. That it would make them limited to household work. What we started to do is: solving the long queues to the kindergartens; professional trainings for women with children; supporting flexible form of employment  - this will directly affect the choice of family for the second child.
  • High attention should be paid to under-school facilities including supporting private facilities. Many obstacles to that have already been removed. I (Putin) request to completely clear out obstacles in the first half of the next year. Regions need to work more: everywhere should be open small and 'home-based' kindergardens as well as after-school hours facilities. Parents should have choice for these facilities without queues and stress.
  • lodging problems should be solved and mortgage should be available to lower middle class families (teachers, doctors etc.)

Source: Marina Davidashvili, Senior Policy Officer, EPF

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