Russia: 10 things to improve the birth rate.In November 2017 Russian president Vladimir Putin announced a reform in demographic policy. The changes are scheduled to take effect in 2018. The government strives to provide better support to families. Here are 10 things authorities plan to implement in order to improve the birth rate in Russia, which had been on decline for years.

10 measures to improve birth rate in Russia

After the crisis of 2014 hit, when US dollar to ruble exchange rate dropped from 30 rubles to 80 within months, Russians are wary about having more kids. The cost of raising a child are high. The government have been paying special one-time payment called “maternity capital” for the birth of second and following kids, however, there was no incentive or support for the firstborn. Besides, the maternity capital program was scheduled to end. But since the situation with birth rate in Russia seems rather bleak, the authorities are planning more financial incentives for families, Lenta.ru reported.

10 measures to improve birth rate in Russia

2,286 more people died in Russia as compared to the number of newborns in 2016, according to GKS.ru. It’s the first year since 2012 that natural growth in population went into negative numbers (-0.01). However, it’s not as bad as in 2001, when the decline in population reached 2,365,826 or 6.5%. In 2017, the decline is likely to have exacerbated, which prompted the authorities to think of quick measures to improve the birth rate.

So, which measures are in plans?

1. Monthly allowance for families for the first and second child.

According to recently adopted law, families with kids will be eligible for a monthly allowance. The law came into effect on 1 February 2018 and includes payments for both biological and adopted children.

2. Payments are only for low-income families.

The support is directed to low income families, where income per person doesn’t exceed 1.5 sustenance levels.

For instance, sustenance level for the second quarter of 2017 in Moscow was set at 18,742 rubles (USD $330). Respectively, the total monthly income for a family of 3 including 2 parents and a child cannot exceed 84,330 rubles (USD $1,486). Otherwise, they will not be eligible for the new allowance.

Baby boy.

Low income families will now receive a monthly allowance for kids.

3. The average monthly allowance will be around 10,523 rubles (USD $185).

The amount depends on region, as various federal subjects set different sustenance levels. According to preliminary estimates, the average pay check per child will reach:

  • 10,523 rubles (USD $185) in 2018;
  • 10,836 rubles (USD $191) in 2019;
  • 11,143 rubles (USD $196) in 2020.

4. No automatic payments.

To get the child allowance, parents will have to file support documents with the authorities. The allowance will be set for 1 year and paid until the child is 18 months. So, to get the full allowance, parents will need to apply twice.

5. The funds will be provided by the Federal budget.

Regions will get the money from the federal budget in accordance with preliminary estimates of the number of recipients. Local social protection authorities will be responsible for handing over the money directly. Over a 3-year period, the government plans to spend on the firstborn support approximately 144,5 billion rubles (USD $2.6 billion).

6. Money for second-born kids will be taken from the funds for maternal capital.

A monthly maternal capital allowance will be available for families after they have given birth to the second child until he or she has reached 1.5 years of age. Only low-income families are eligible. The rest of the maternal capital will be spent as previously. In other words, families are not getting extra money for the second child but only have the opportunity to get cash they need from the maternal capital fund they have been already allocated. Maternal capital can be spent to purchase property or for the child’s education, but not for living expenses. The new law allows partial access to the funds through child allowance.

Child in Russia.

The program of maternal capital for the birth of the second and subsequent kids was introduced in 2007. It has been extended until 2021.

7. Almost half of Russian families are potential recipients of the new payments.

According to current calculations, 339 thousand families (45.7% of all households with kids under 18) with firstborns will be eligible for the new allowance. This means, nearly 46% of Russian families are actually living rather poorly, even by the standards applied by the government itself. Among families having a second child, 389 thousand families (50.7%) will be eligible.

8. The maternal capital program has been extended till 2021.

Before the current law was adopted, it was expected that the program for citizens with the second, third and subsequent children will be abolished by 31 December 2018. Now the program has been extended for 3 years until 31 December 2021.

The new law still puts a time limit on the use of funds from the maternal capital. Parents can only access this cash after 3 years. The exceptions are cases where funds are spent on buying property or paying back bank loans for real estate. The funds can also be accessed before the 3-year limit if the family has a disabled child.

9. Maternal capital can be spent on preschool education.

Previously parents had to wait until the offspring went to university to use the money for education. Now parents can start using funds for preschool preparation courses and classes, which are popular in Russia.

Preschool education.

Various preschool education classes are very popular in Russia.

10. The government plans to provide more kindergarten places and offer 6% home loans for families with 2 or more kids.

Further steps in the demographic reform include putting an end to the waiting lists in kindergartens and implementing a 6% mortgage for families, who are having second or third child in the coming year (the government will pay 4% out of current 10% commercial rates). It is expected that in the next 5 years over 500,000 families will benefit from the discounted mortgages. Additionally, 50 billion rubles (USD $881 million) will be invested in refurbishment of children’s hospitals and day clinics over the next 3 years.

Government kindergartens offering preschool education are basically free in Russia. However, they have limited places available. Commercial (private) early childhood education centers are expensive. Now households with 2 kids will have preferential placements, which will definitely will assist new mothers and encourage their return into the workforce.

Public opinion: These measures are not enough

WCIOM.ru asked Russians what they think about the measures directed to improve the birth rate. 49% of the respondents believe the measures are insufficient to make a difference, while 38% think that the new steps will assist in increasing the size of population.

63% of locals think that to improve the birth rate the government needs to direct efforts to making the financial situation of families better.

Truth about demographics of Russia: How many men for 100 women are in cities, countryside, by age group?Read also:

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