Non-marital childbearing in Russia: second demographic transition or pattern of disadvantage?

Brienna Perelli-Harris, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Theodore P. Gerber, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Using retrospective relationship, birth, and education histories that span 1985-2000, this study investigates the rapid increase in nonmarital childbearing in post-Soviet Russia. By examining the role of education in the multi-stage process that leads to nonmarital childbearing, we find that the greatest increase in nonmarital childbearing is due to increases in cohabitation, which is not directly related to education. University educated women are less likely to experience nonmarital births, but not less likely to experience a nonmarital conception. Surprisingly, women with less than secondary education are less likely to conceive a child nonmaritally, while women with vocational education are more likely to conceive and give birth nonmaritally or within cohabitation. Thus, nonmarital childbearing in Russia has not conformed to the pattern of disadvantage in the United States or that of Second Demographic Transition countries. Instead it has adopted elements of each and maintained some context-specific aspects.

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Presented in Session 41: Union Instability, Non-Marital Births and Fertility