To Give Birth or Not to Give Birth?’: Having Children in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia
oaches, both in his speech and in subsequent policy initiatives. Concern about the family and the birth rate is not new; the so-called demographic crisis emerged periodically throughout the Soviet era. There are, however, enormous changes in the ways it has been tackled in different historical periods. This chapter starts with a discussion of these varying approaches, and then looks in more detail at Putin’s understanding of the causes of the demographic problem, how he has attempted to resolve it, and how this fits in with his broader understanding of the family and gender relations in Russia. In Soviet times there were no reliable sources which could tell us how women themselves viewed these subjects, but this is no longer the case. We have carried out a ‘netnographic’ study—an analysis of discussions on internet sites—to discern how important the family and children are for women in post-Soviet Russia, how they explain their decision whether or not to have children, and how their attitudes differ from those of women in the late Soviet era.