By Paul Goble
According to a new survey of 9500 young people aged 21 to 35 in the Russian Far East, 47 percent of people don’t want to get married or have children, 27 percent are ready to marry but not to have children, and only 26 percent saying they want both, figures that make the achievement of Vladimir Putin’s demographic goals there impossible.
The survey was conducted by the Black Cube Center for Social Innovation. Both its results and their implications were discussed today by the center’s director Yury Kolomeytsev on the Regnum news portal. He says that no one should think that this pattern is going to change anytime soon (regnum.ru/news/society/2310688.html).
“The most unfavorable regions of the Far East from the point of view of planned fertility among the population under the age of 35 are Khabarovsk kray, Magadan oblast, Kamchatka, Chukotka and Primorsky kray,” all predominantly ethnic Russian regions, the researcher continues.
The situation is somewhat better in Sakhalin and in Sakha, where 45 and 39 percent of young people say they are planning to marry and have children. In Sakha, “only a third of those surveyed said they were negatively inclined to the creation of the family, and in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast and the Amur oblast, this figure was still lower, 32 percent.”
According to Kolomeytsev, “favorable conditions for the natural growth of demography can arise only in those Far Eastern regions in which the local population is prepared to remain and continue its family life. In subjects with high labor and educational migration, one should not expect any real improvement in the demographic situation in the coming years.”
Overall demographic numbers confirm this. Primorsky kray, he points out, continues to decline and to decline at ever increasing rates,” exactly the opposite of what Putin has called for. In Sakhalin, the government has had to intervene massively to support the increasingly impoverished population. Its actions may explain why there is less opposition to families there.
But the task of regional governments in this regard is enormous. In Sakhalin, “47 percent of all monetary income is concentrated in the hands of 20 percent of the population. The remainder live in poverty, with 1.4 percent having incomes less than 7,000 rubles [a month or 110 US dollars]. The incomes of Sakhalin’s poor are 16 times less than those of its rich.
The Sakhalin authorities claim they have reduced the number of those in poverty in 2016, but Regnum notes, “experts consider that [the people involved] have not had their material position improved but simply have left for other regions in search of a better life.”