Scientific journal
European Journal of Natural History
ISSN 2073-4972

YOUTH PRO-NATALIST POLICIES: SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC ASPECTS (CASE STUDY SOME REGIONS OF RUSSIA, FRANCE AND GERMANY)

Gokova O.V. 1
1 Omsk State University n.a. F.M. Dostoevsky

1. Dorbritz J. Germany: Family diversity with low actual and desired fertility // Demographic Research. – 2008. – № 19. – P. 557–598. – URL: http://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol19/17/19-17.pdf.

2. Germany: A modern family policy for more partnership when it comes to creating a work-family balance and economically stable families // European Union: European Platform for Investing in Children. – URL: http://europa.eu/epic/countries/germany/index_en.htm.

3. Lépinard E., Lieber M. The Policy on Gender Equality in France // European Parliament. – URL: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2015/510024/IPOL_IDA(2015) 510024_EN.pdf.

4. Thévenon O. Does Fertility Respond to Work and Family-life Reconciliation Policies in France? // Research Gate. – URL: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/ 46479023_Does_fertility_respond_to_work_and_family_reconciliation_policies_in_France.

5. Thévenon O. Family Policies: France // PERFAR: Population Europe Resource Finder & Archive. – URL: http://www.perfar.eu/policy/family-children/france.

6. Vanovermeir S. L’accueil des jeunes enfants: axe majeur de la politique familiale française depuis les années 1970 // Ministère des Affaires sociales, de la Santé et des Droits des femmes. – URL: http://drees.social-sante.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/article31.pdf.

A modern young person appreciates most of all his or her personal freedom and independence and puts his or her interests superior than those ones of other people and the society. In such picture of the world children, even if they are welcome, are associated with extra expenses and additional troubles and are considered as factors limiting an adult. The given article analyzes the results of three empirical researches, conducted in Russia, Germany and France, points out corresponding values of modern young people, the character of their social behavior in the demographic aspect and factors influencing such behavior. The experience of pro-natalist policies in regions of France and Germany, the opinions of experts, received in experts’interviews, allowed to formulate and work out the measures to affect the young families in the framework of pro-natalist policies, i.e. policies serving the increase of a birth rate, marriages and natural natality.

Modern globalization influences the transformation of the reproduction framework and its consequences force modern society to change the priorities of the demographic policies. Surprisingly, but nowadays the lowest level of a birthrate is registered in the developed countries. And vice versa, there is the highest level of this index in the developing countries. Hence, we can observe an inverse relationship between the welfare of the population and the index of a birthrate, so it is obvious that reproduction priorities depend not only upon material incentives, but upon different factors, starting from social, ethnic, religious up to educational, moral-psychological ones.

Recently, in spite of the improvement of the demographic situation in Russia, our state is still in the demographic crisis, which in accordance with the opinions of some researches will increase, having negative quality and quantity consequences for the development of the population. Modern demographic policies are characterized only by the economic measures and do not remove the reason of the demographic crisis, so it is partial and temporary, as the crisis is conditioned not only by the economic factors. Nowadays the measurers which are taken in RF to stimulate the birthrate are realized by authorities without proper understanding of the factors, influencing the reproduction activity of the population, without regional differentiation of these measurers and their connection with the socio-economic policies in regions, realizing an average approach to the stimulation of a birthrate for different groups of the population. It requires the systematization and taking into account all the conditions for the provision of a proper level of the life of the people and a separation of a certain demographic branch – pro-natalist policies, the formation of which should start at the regional level for the solution of the demographic crisis and the following achievement of the nationwide results.

Russia is not the only country where we can observe population decline tendencies. Almost all the developed countries are at the stage of «the second demographic transition» which is characterized by a high level of the welfare, women’s involvement in the industry, an increase of their social role, an increase value of the higher education and as the consequence a decrease of the level of a birthrate, transformation of the social approach to the family behavior.

If we take this fact into account, there is a necessity to handle a comparative analysis of the factors influencing the changes the reproduction behavior of the population in different countries, people’s attitude to marriages, to a birth out of the wedlock and the measurers of the demographic policies. Russia, Germany and France were chosen as territorial objects. Russia and Germany have common tendencies of the demographic development, whereas France is a state which has been realizing active pro-natalist policies since the end of the XIX century.

In the research we suggest to concentrate the attention on the exploration of the views of the youth, as the one is the main resource for the reproduction of the population – natural, migration and social and has the main load connected with the reproductive behavior, particularly, the formation of families, childbirth and the raising of the children.

The novelty of the project is the author’s approach to the creation of the mechanisms of the realization of the youth policy taking into account the experience of the developed countries (Germany and France) and different factors influencing the reproductive behavior of the youth on the example of one of the territorial object of RF (Omsk region).

The expected results of the research will be the identification and systematization of the factors which influence the reproductive behavior of the youth of Omsk region, similar regions of France and Germany, the attitude of the youth to marriage, family, the childbirth out of the wedlock, the use of contraception, axiological values of the youth in different countries, the state support of families with children. All these will allow to work out the author’s model of the pro-natalist policies and its unification which goals to be suggested to the regions with the conditions similar to Omsk region’s ones.

As a result of conducted researches, the experience of Russia, Germany and France (in carrying out pro-natalist policies) was analyzed and the following connection was found out: reproduction behavior of the youth of the mentioned countries depends on the quality of the provided state measures and creation of a positive image of a strong and united family. Also the peculiarities of pro-natalist policies in Germany and France were distinguished.

Today’s unified nation-state of Germany was, prior to 1990, composed of a conservative welfare state in the West, and a socialist system in the East. The two states followed two different policy paths during the division of Germany from 1949 to 1989 [1, p. 559]. In the East, childbirth and the employment of both parents were supported, and the dual-earner family was the dominant family model. In West Germany, politicians followed the male breadwinner model, which supported marriage and the traditional division of labour between husband and wife. However, in order to avoid analogies with Nazi Germany, West German politicians tended to reject pro-natalist policies. Based on the principle of «sustainable family policy», which was first introduced in 2002, the German government has been seeking to increase fertility and reduce child poverty by mitigating work-family conflicts.

Currently, Germany has a mixed system of child benefits and tax allowances which redistributes resources from childless people to families, and from higher-income families to low-income families. Child benefits are virtually universal, and are paid as monthly lump-sum payments per child, with the amounts varying depending on the number of children in the family (2014: 184 euros for the first and second child, 190 euros for the third child, and 215 euros for the fourth and each additional child). The benefit is generally paid until the child is 18 years old, or 25 years old if the child is in education. However, from age 18 onwards, the benefit is means-tested based on the income of the child. Whether parents are entitled to tax allowances beyond the child benefit payments is determined by the tax authorities when the parents file their tax return. Parents with annual incomes above approximately 63000 euros (or singles with annual incomes above 33500 euros) are eligible for additional tax allowances [2].

As for France, family policy has a long history there, and fertility has traditionally been a political concern. Compared to other OECD countries, public investment in families with children is relatively high. In 2009, when France spent about 3,8 % of GDP on family benefits, cash payments, and services and tax breaks for families, the country had the highest investment level in the OECD, which had an average spending level of 2,9 % [5].

The development of childcare-related policies in France can be broken down into four main periods:

1. Before the 1970s: Policies encouraged the male breadwinner model, in which men worked and women stayed home. These measures included tax cuts for families and (from 1946 to 1972) a single wage allowance for households with a single wage earner.

2. The 1970s and the 1980s: Policies became progressively more supportive of mothers’ labour market participation, with the progressive abolition of the single wage allowance in 1972, the introduction of a childcare allowance for households with a working mother, and the development of public childcare services in the 1980s. However, in 1985 a parental education allowance for women with three or more children who left employment to care for their children was introduced. This allowance aimed exclusively at large families was unique in Europe [6].

3. The 1990s: Policies promoted the diversification of childcare with the development of public subsidies for both collective and individual home-based services. Parents employing a registered child-minder at home or at the child-minder’s home received an allowance covering the payment of social contributions for their employee; the childcare costs could also be deducted from taxable income. However, the parental education allowance was extended to mothers with two children in 1994, and to mothers with one child in 2004 (but for six months only). Thus, there was a dualism in childcare policies which had unequal effects across households.

4. From the mid-2000s until today: Policies have placed more emphasis on the diverse needs of families. Recent policy initiatives have included the following:

– The development of services for working parents with non-standard hours was set as a main supply-side objective;

– Specific centres with medical and social assistance have been developed since 1976, and services for families with children with disabilities or severe illness have been improved;

– Meeting the needs of low-income families and children with disadvantaged backgrounds (especially children of poor families and of migrant families) has been re-affirmed as a policy priority. In 2006, a law was passed that increased the availability of childcare services for families receiving social assistance by requiring municipalities to provide childcare places to the children of these families who are not already attending school. A minimum of one in 20 childcare places must be reserved for these children. These goals were reaffirmed in a 2009 law on social assistance, which also gave priority in access to childcare to children with parents who are currently undergoing a process of social inclusion (regardless of whether they are receiving benefits). Finally, the 2012 conference on poverty set the objective of delivering more childcare places for children from poor families, who are expected to represent at least 10 % of all children in collective centres [4];

– There are many different kinds of childcare providers in France offering a wide range of services, from individual (home-based) to collective (centre-based) care. The governance of childcare availability and quality involves various actors, from municipalities to the central government. Reforms of the governance structure were carried out to encourage the diversification of services (i.e., to encourage the development of services for parents with non-standard working hours, to facilitate access for poor and migrant families, and to provide services for children with disabilities or severe illness). Recently, the supply of childcare services has been expanded through an increase in the number of child-minders [3].

The key challenges for childcare policy-makers are to ensure that the recent expansion of childcare services (including of out-of-school care) takes into account possible future reforms of parental leave, and to ensure that the supply of services for parents with non-standard working patterns continues to increase. Reducing inequalities in the costs to families for the use of public centre-based services and home-based child-minders is another option under discussion. Addressing children with specific needs would also call for the adaptation of child-minder training schemes.

Thus, taking into account the empirical data of the researches and the experience of pro-natalist policies in Germany and France, we worked out a set of measures of pro-natalist policies at the regional level.

1. In our opinion, one of the most important measures of the mentioned above policies should be the change of the provision of the maternity leave. As our research shows the most important factors, influencing the delay or refusal a child birth, is the fact that most women (including Russian ones) do not want to leave their social and professional life for a long time because of a birth and rising of a child. Having a maternity leave for two-three years often makes a woman uncompetitive on the job market, she loses professional skills. Many Russian women are completely involved in the process of upbringing a child and do not participate in the social life. The development of a free market and the increase of possibilities of women’s employment can become a more important factor influencing the increase of a birth rate, than special family-demographic measures in this aspect. Policies which support the access to jobs for women and protects the saving a job and provides adequate income in most of the cases is a good condition for making up a decision to have a child (or one more child). The goal of such policies is integration of mothers in the professional sphere. Long maternity leaves and gender-segregation policies show that combination of work with a motherhood, the return to the job market after a maternity leave and the preservation of the previous standard of life can become rather difficult. It leads to the decrease of a birth rate.

Our suggestions are to provide several variants of a system of maternity leaves and benefits in accordance with the wishes of parents:

a) maternity leave of a 4 months’ length with saving a job and 100 % of wages. After that a woman can return to work and use the service of a certified baby-sitter who looks after children either at her own place or comes to parents’ house;

b) maternity leave divided between both parents: part of a leave is taken by mother (3,5 months), then she returns to work, the second part is taken by a father (up to 3,5 months) with saving jobs and 100 % of wages. After a maternity leave parents can return to work and use a service of a baby-sitter (as in the first variant) or take a child to a kindergarten or prolong a partially paid maternity leave with saving a job which can last up to 3 years.

2. Existing model of pre-school education in Russia is provided mainly for children from 3 to 7 years, so, there should be a versatile system of care of the children who did not reach 3 years and system of women’s work support.

3. Another measure of the pro-natalist policies can be the construction of a culture of a work-life balance.

4. A construction of a «supporting environment» which includes a lot of devices and daily practices making life easier.

5. According to the results of sociological interviews the problem of a dwelling is the most important one for young families. In this direction it is expedient to develop a system of mortgage credit lending for young families, including low lending rate which can depend on the number of children (the more children the lower lending rate).

Thus, a realization of a systematic combination of diverse variants of socio-economic policies towards families with children (including direct help, tax benefits, construction of an infrastructure) is an important condition for youth pro-natalist policies effectiveness. Modern demographic situation in Russia and the need to sustain the achieved results demands to work out new solutions and the use of best international practice (including the experience of France and Germany).


The work is submitted to the International Scientific Conference «Economic mechanism of innovative development», France (Paris), March, 19–26, 2016, came to the editorial office оn 04.03.2016.