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Effectiveness of demographic policy: Russian and international experience

Priority areas of development: sociology

Subject of the study: Current and prospective demographic situation in Russia, long- and short-term trends in the main processes contributed to change of population size and it’s composition - fertility, mortality, migration, age, sex, marital and family structure of the population, as well as demographic, family, health and migration policies provided by the state.

Goal of the research:

Comprehensive study of demographic trends in Russia and an assessment of the effectiveness of the conducted demographic and migration policy in an international context based on a synthesis of Russian and international experience in using demographic information systems and the methodology for analyzing short-term and long-term demographic results of public policies.


The methodological basis of the research is the Demographic Transition theory, including its more detailed specifications ("Epidemiological Transition", "Second" and "Third" demographic transitions). We use and develop  ideas about the demographic transition as a modernization of the specific demographic system, which, in turn, is seen against the background of economic and socio-cultural changes that demonstrate universal as well as nationally specific nature. This approach provides a basis for understanding the demographic shifts of recent decades both in view of global trends and the country specific development in Russia and the former Soviet Union in the twentieth century during the Soviet and post-Soviet periods, and opens the way to understanding the demographic and socio-economic prospects of the country and its regions taking into account population policy measures and instruments, structural and institutional changes in general.

In this study, classical methods of statistical and demographic analysis are widely used: the system of general and specific rates and indicators to estimate the intensity of demographic events, life tables, including life tables by cause of death, fertility tables by birth order, the characteristics of the quantum and timing for births, marriages, divorces abortions and some other socio-demographic events.

Of important methodological significance in the analysis and prediction of the demographic changes is a cohort approach, which not only provides a clearer understanding of the historical societal and demographic changes, but also allows to distinguish long-term changes from temporal, conjectural fluctuations of demographic indicators.

Empirical base of the study

This study is based on:

  • Official statistical data provided by ROSSTAT, including the results of All-Russia Population Censuses and Microcensuses; detailed data from the annual vital and migration statistics reports, the annual estimates of population size and age and sex composition of population, results of population projections, results of representative sample surveys such as “Employment Survey” and some others;
  • statistical data provided by Russia’s Federal Ministries and Agencies: Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Interior Affairs (Migration department), Ministry of Labour, Social Insurance Fund, Pension Fund;
  • International comparative data of the sample surveys carried out in Russia, in particular, data from three waves of the panel study Russian Generation and Gender Survey (2004, 2007 and 2011) within the framework of the UNECE “Generation and Gender Programme”; “Reproductive health survey” (2011-2012), European Social Survey and others;
  • HSE IDEM Demographic Database that has been created and is supported by Institute of Demography of Higher School of Economics, and which contains long series of data for Russia and 40 European and non-European developed countries;
  • International demographic databases: United Nations, WHO, OECD, EuroStat, Human Mortality Database, Human Fertility Database, “Comparative Family Policy Database”, “Population and Policy Database”, INED Demographic Database and others.

Key results of the research include:

  • generalization of the experience of existing international information systems on demographic, migration processes and socio-demographic policies in countries around the world, an assessment of the representativeness and quality of statistical data in international databases, and recommendations for using these data in population studies;
  • a critical assessment of Russia's presentation in the most known international demographic and migration databases, and databases on family, public health and migration policies, as well as an assessment of the state of information support for population and migration police making in Russia;
  • an evaluation of the current demographic situation in Russia within the context of long-term demographic trends in Russia and abroad, identifying of universal and specific features of the long-term and more recent trends;
  • analytical characteristics of all components of the population size changes in Russian Federation and its regions, changes in the spatial distribution of the Russia’s population and its urban and rural components on the basis of long time series of vital statistics and migration data;
  • an evaluation of trends in period and cohort fertility indicators based on life-table (survival) analysis of fertility by birth order, and a measurement of response of fertility indicators to the pronatalist policy interventions in Russia;
  • an analytical review of the situation with official statistics on family planning, abortions and assessment of change in prevalence of abortion and contraception in Russia based on official statistics and sample surveys;
  • findings of an in-depth analysis of the long-term and short-term changes in mortality and life expectancy in Russia, evaluation of contribution of specific age groups and causes of deaths to these changes within the wider international context;
  • results of analysis of data relating to international and internal migration in Russia, including data on labor migrants, based on different international and national sources of data.

Implementation of the results

In 2018, the results of studies conducted by HSE IDEM in the field of demographic analysis and projections were used by ROSSTAT in the elaborating of the new official demographic projections for the period up to 2075. The results of the studies are used at a regular base by the Presidential Administration, Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Interior Affairs, and Ministry of Public Health to develop the socio-demographic, family and migration policies. Methodological approaches that have been developed in this project are actively used by Rosstat, in order to improve the statistical monitoring of demographic and migration processes, assessments of the indicators characterizing the demographic situation and its change, in the analysis of the results of the National Population Censuses, Micro-censuses and national socio-demographic sample surveys.

International demographic database, created and supported by HSE IDEM which is actively used in this study is freely available on the Internet and is widely used at all levels of the Russian government, for scientific and educational purposes as well as in the electronic and print media in Russia and abroad.

The most detailed results of the study will be published in the book "The Population of Russia 2017" (HSE Publishers, 2019).

The results of the study are reflected in the teaching activities, including "Demography" (in Russian) and "Population and Development" (in English) Master's programs in HSE, and in the short-term international courses for advanced demographic analysis and socio-economic development, organized by IDEM with the support of UNFPA for administrations, state statistics officers, experts and researchers in population studies, employees of international organizations from the CIS and some other countries (September 2018).

Area of application

The results of the study are recommended for use:

  • in the activities of the executive branches on the federal and regional level to improve the depth and quality of monitoring demographic processes, to improve the system of criteria and indicators used to characterize the population and analyze the effectiveness of public policy;
  • in the work of the supreme bodies of state administration, ministries and departments responsible for the strategic development of family, health and migration policies;
  • to improve the content of educational socio-demographic programs for bachelor and master students in HSE and in other secondary and higher education establishments in Russia, and in universities in CIS and Euro-Asian Countries.


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