Extra-marital conceptions in contemporary Russia’s fertility

Mark Tolts, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Olga Antonova
Evgeni Andreev, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

This paper for the first time explores the combined incidence of extra-marital conceptions in contemporary Russia's fertility. In order to retrieve the necessary information a special processing of all the birth certificates from Russia in 2002 was undertaken yielding the detailed data on three groups of births which resulted from extra-marital conceptions: births less than nine months after registration of marriage (pre-marital conceptions); births out of wedlock registered by both parents; births out of wedlock registered by unmarried mother alone. According to the results of the special processing, extra-marital conceptions constitute 54 percent of total births in Russia, and this percentage was the same for the urban and rural populations of the country. Of all births in Russia pre-marital conceptions constituted 25 percent, 14 percent were registered by parents who were not formally married and 15 percent were registered by the unmarried mother alone. The incidence of extra-marital conceptions was analyzed by age for each designated group. Below the age of 20, almost all births were the result of extra-marital conception, and even for mothers aged between 20 and 24, the share of such births was as high as 60 percent. General indicators of the incidence of extra-marital conceptions were calculated for 80 principal regions of the country and sizable differentiations among them were found. For example, in Tuva republic (East Siberia) the share of extra-marital conceptions was as high as 72 percent. At the same time, the percentage of pre-marital conceptions among all births to Jewish mothers (13 percent) was half that in the total urban population (26 percent). Clearly, this difference coincides with a different level of contraception. A case study based on data for the million inhabitants of the Ural city of Perm shows approximately two-fold increase in the incidence of extra-marital conceptions from 1966 to 2002.

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Presented in Session 36: Fertility, partnerships and intergenerational relations