Having More Babies is Top National Priority, President Putin Declares at Federal Assembly

Putin says our top national priority is the preservation and increase of Russia’s population . . .

Addressing the Federal Assembly on Tuesday, President Putin began the substantive part of his speech by focusing on demography: 

Russia’s future and historical perspective depend on how many of us there are (I would like to start the main part of my Address with demography), how many children are born in Russian families in one, five or ten years, on these children’s upbringing, on what kind of people they become and what they will do for the country, as well as on the values they choose as their mainstay in life.

There are nearly 147 million of us now. But we have entered a difficult, a very difficult demographic period. The measures we took starting in the mid-2000s have had a positive effect on demography. We have even reached a stage of natural increase. This is why we have more children at schools now.

As the nation's leader, he emphasized that the population is not merely one concern out of many. Rather, Putin said that every new government policy needs to take population concerns into consideration, as being of central importance:

Each step we take and each new law or government program we adopt must be scrutinized from the viewpoint of our top national priority – the preservation and increase of Russia’s population.

Russia is experiencing a challenging demographic outlook. Previously, it was still possible to reach a positive trend and even achieve a natural increase. This happened thanks to the measures that the authorities took, starting in the mid-2000s. Therefore, there are more and more schoolchildren.

But today, there are still some significant difficulties. Explaining the essence of the problem, the President of the Russian Federation said that only a small percentage of people from the 1990s generation are now creating new families. Thus the number of births started turning downwards again. As a result, the total fertility rate in 2019 amounted to 1.5.

Note that the total fertility rate is defined as the average number of births per woman over her entire life.

For comparison, he cited numbers from previous points in Russia's history:

I can tell you by way of comparison that the figure was 1.3 in 1943, during the Great Patriotic War. It was only lower in the 1990s: 1.16 in 1999, lower even than during the Great Patriotic War [World War II]. There were very few families with two children, and some couples had to put off starting a family.

While the current birthrate is higher than it was decades ago, the president reminded listeners that this number is not high enough for the ongoing strength and stability of the country. At minimum, to keep population stable over a long period of time, birthrates eventually need to be raised back up to 2.1 or better.

The President set a short-term goal for the country:

It is our historic duty to respond to this challenge. We must not only get out of this demographic trap but ensure a sustainable natural population growth by 2025. The aggregate birth rate must be 1.7 in 2024.

All measures of the authorities are aimed at creating an effective family support system. This was stated by President Vladimir Putin this Tuesday, speaking in his Message to the Federal Assembly.

"The point of all, I want to emphasize this, of all the measures we are taking is to create a harmonious, large-scale and, most importantly, efficiently working family support system in Russia," Putin said, noting that the incomes of citizens, especially those with children, should be enough for a decent life.

He noted that only the strengthening of the institution of the family can guarantee the development of Russia as a large and successful country. Thus, he said it is necessary to ensure an increase in the birth rate by the middle of the decade.

​​​​Sources: rg.ru1rg.ru2 (Russian), en.kremlin.ru

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