Nonmarital Childbearing in Russia: Second Demographic Transition or Pattern of Disadvantage?
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Using retrospective union, birth, and education histories that span 1980–2003, this study investigates nonmarital childbearing in contemporary Russia. We employ a combination of methods to decompose fertility rates by union status and analyze the processes that lead to a nonmarital birth. We find that the increase in the percentage of nonmarital births was driven mainly by the growing proportion of women who cohabit before conception, not changing fertility behavior of cohabitors or changes in union behavior after conception. The relationship between education and nonmarital childbearing has remained stable: the least-educated women have the highest birth rates within cohabitation and as single mothers, primarily because of their lower probability of legitimating a nonmarital conception. These findings suggest that nonmarital childbearing Russia has more in common with the pattern of disadvantage in the United States than with the second demographic transition. We also find several aspects of nonmarital childbearing that neither of these perspectives anticipates.
KeywordsNonmarital childbearing Cohabitation Fertility Single mothers Russia
This research was supported by a core grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Health and Child Development to the Center for Demography and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (R24 HD047873) and the Max Planck Institute. The Russian Generations and Gender Survey (GGS) was conducted by the Independent Institute of Social Policy (Moscow) with the financial support of the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation and the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Germany. The design and standard survey instruments of the GGS were adjusted to the Russian context by the Independent Institute of Social Policy (Moscow) and the Demoscope Independent Research Center (Moscow) in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Rostock, Germany). We are grateful to Jan Hoem, anonymous reviewers, and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research for comments on earlier versions.
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