This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Monday, February 4, 2013

Can Boyz II Men Boost the Russian Birth Rate?

Thanks to Marta Jankowska for pointing me to one of the most ridiculous pronatalist schemes that I have seen in a long time. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia (again), has long worried about the low birth rate in his country, which is estimated by the Population Reference Bureau to be 1.6 children per woman. Note, by the way, that this is one of the higher rates in Eastern and Southern Europe, so Russian women are not below average in the region as a whole, but they are still well below replacement level, especially since Russia's life expectancy of 69 lags behind the region. Now comes Putin's latest bright idea for boosting the birth rate:
Putin apparently hopes to harness the all-American boyband's raw romantic charm through a gig in Moscow to encourage their legions of Russian fans to reproduce ahead of Valentine's Day to songs such as I'll Make Love To You and On Bended Knee.
As Russia's population continues to fall to record lows, Putin's continuing PR campaign to persuade the population to have more children appears to have stalled. Until now.
Despite being the worlds largest country at over 6.5million square miles, high rates of smoking, alcoholism, pollution and poverty, together with falling rates, mean Russia's population will shrink to 116 million by 2050 from 142million last year.
Russia also has the world's third-largest heroin abuse rate and accounts for a third of all heroin deaths worldwide.
President Putin wants to boost the nation's birth rate by 25 per cent in the next three years to counteract the predicted decline.
We might safely say that the country needs a demographic do-over, and it needs more boys (and girls) to grow into men  (and women) if it is to even slow down population loss, despite being attractive to a lot immigrants (including reports of Chinese moving to Russia). Will Boyz II Men make the demographic difference? This will good a good field experiment. Let's remember to check on the country's birth rate next year at this time.

1 comment:

  1. It would be fascinating if this concert was part of a pronatalism campaign. However, it seems likely that the concert is just another unrelated stop on the band's world tour.

    The Moscow Times story says, "President Vladimir Putin's crusade to raise the country's birth rate is set to get the support of three powerful voices on its behalf."

    The Daily Mail story then speculates, "Putin apparently hopes to harness the all-American boyband's raw romantic charm through a gig in Moscow to encourage their legions of Russian fans to reproduce ahead of Valentine's Day to songs such as I'll Make Love To You and On Bended Knee."

    I don't see anything in either story documenting that the concert came about because of the pronatalism campaign or that the campaign has promoted the concert since it was scheduled.

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