Non-marital childbearing in Russia: second demographic transition or pattern of disadvantage?
Using retrospective union, birth, and education histories that span 1980-2003, this study investigates nonmarital childbearing in post-Soviet Russia. We employ a combination of methods to decompose fertility rates by union status and analyze the processes that lead to a nonmarital birth. We find that the primary cause of the increase in the proportion of nonmarital births is not due to the changing fertility behavior of cohabitors, nor to changes in union behavior after conception, but due to the increasing proportion of women who cohabit before conception. We also find that the relationship between education and nonmarital childbearing has not changed over time; the least educated women have the highest birth rates within cohabitation and as single mothers, primarily due to a lower probability of legitimating a nonmarital conception. Based on these findings, we argue that Russia has more in common with the pattern of disadvantage in the United States, as opposed to the trends described by the second demographic transition. We also find several aspects of non-marital childbearing that neither of these perspectives anticipates.
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