A Brief History of Family Policy in Russia, 1917-2013

The history of twentieth-century Russia is one of social and political upheaval, and the family, being the “natural and fundamental group unit of society” (Article 16.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), could not escape being profoundly affected.1 Society’s development and its stability and prosperity depend, among other things, on the continuous growth or, at the very least, stability of population size.2 This piece of common knowledge is complemented by a vast body of research indicating that the stability and security of the natural family are vital to such development. The environment provided by the natural family plays a crucial role in the social well-being and productivity of younger generations. In other words, securing society’s prosperity requires not only reversing the current depopulation trend, but also ensuring that most children are being born and raised in intact, two-parent (mother-father) families. This is especially important in Russia, where the birthrate continuously lags behind replacement levels. According to official Rosstat figures, natural population loss in 2010 amounted to 239,600 people. The aggregate birthrate in 2009 was 1.54, compared to the replacement level of 2.1, a figure even the most optimistic Rosstat forecasts say Russia will not be able to reach before 2030. Meanwhile, Russia leads the world in abortions, with abortion rates in 2010 reaching 1,186,100 per year. The institution of the family in Russia is, too, undergoing a crisis—in 2011, 51 marriages out of 100 ended in divorce. Today’s Russia needs to develop and implement a comprehensive family policy that would strengthen marriage, fatherhood, motherhood, and with it family life and family values. This need makes it worthwhile to study the history of family policy in Russia, both to observe the roots of some of the current issues and to avoid serious mistakes in the future. The Revolution and Its Consequences (1917 — 1921) The fir
Please subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.