2. I do fear, however, that they can be quite misleading. In particular, I believe that statistics about the low birth rate in Russia are misused, especially by journalists. Though the political and economic crises of the last fifteen years have certainly impacted the birth rate, it is also true that the Russian birth rate has been declining for decades. As early as the 1950s, Soviet demographers warned of a severe decline in the birth rate at the end of the twentieth century, based solely on factors such as urbanization, increasing access to education (especially for girls and women), and industrialization (Zakharov and Ivanova 1996). A study by Tatiana Kharkova and Evgueny Andreev entitled “Did The Economic Crisis Cause the Fertility Decline in Russia: Evidence from the 1994 Microcensus” (2000) concludes quite authoritatively that it did not.

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