Ural Federal University: Grandparents Will Help Raise Birth Rate in Russia

Researchers at Ural Federal University conducted a survey of dozens of Ural region families and came to the conclusion that grandparents’ help in raising grandchildren is almost as much work as official work, which has a positive effect on the economy and demography in Russia, reports Oblastnaya Gazeta. The results of the research were presented by the scientists at a video conference of the thematic platform of the National Parents Association (NPA) “Parental labor. Structure. Motivation. Results.”

“The number of studies on grandparents in other countries is growing, while in Russia there are many times fewer. We wanted to count how much effort our grandmothers and grandfathers put into their grandchildren. The Russian Foundation for Basic Research supported us,” says Professor Anna Bagirova of the Department of Sociology and Technology in Government and Municipal Management at the UrFU.

Sociologists at the UrFU interviewed a total of 563 people from three-generation families with children under the age of 12. It turned out that most grandparents are actively involved in bringing up their grandchildren. For example, 21% of those surveyed help their children raise the younger generation on a daily basis. The same number of grandparents are “weekend grandparents”. Looking after grandchildren, accompanying them from schools and kindergartens, joint visits to exhibitions, plays and concerts, help with money and food – this is not a complete list of things that representatives of the older generation do in families. Most assistance comes from grandparents on the part of the child’s mother – a trend observed not only in our country, but in other countries as well.

Episodically 32% of grandparents in Sverdlovsk families offer their help. A quarter of respondents admitted that they do not participate in the upbringing of their grandchildren at all. Researchers note: modern grandparents become involved later than they used to. This is due to the fact that families in the Urals are increasingly postponing the birth of children. Women have been in the status of grandmother for about 30 years while men have been grandfathers for only 13. Such a difference is explained by low life expectancy of men.

Scientists concluded: by helping their daughters and sons raise their children, the older generation indirectly affects the birth rate in Russia.

“In a family where older people help, people are more willing to have a second or third child. I am convinced of this from the example of my own family. It is much easier for a person to concentrate on his work if the child is left with his grandmother. The tension of the family-work conflict decreases, people feel more free and can decide to have another child,” says Oksana Lunegova, a teacher-psychologist at school № 69 in Ekaterinburg, an expert of the NPA and the Sverdlovsk Regional Parents’ Committee, and a mother of larger family.

As the survey showed, in most cases, grandparents enjoy staying with their grandchildren. World statistics show that spending time with grandchildren generally increases the life expectancy of the older generation. Children give older relatives an impetus for life, motivate them to look after their health and master new technologies. Grandchildren benefit as well: They survive childhood traumas more easily and learn better.

“Despite the mutual benefits, the cost of grandchildren is worth compensation at the state level. Remember: at first many people did not believe that families with children would receive money, but now the maternity capital surprises no one. Here and grandparents, bringing up grandchildren, should be encouraged by discounts and cash compensation,” believes Lyudmila Zolotnitskaya, executive director of the NGO “Forum of Women of the Urals”.

To do this, it is necessary to develop a mechanism that would allow them to assess and reimburse their labor costs, believes a representative of a public organization.

“This year the party “United Russia” collected proposals from people before the elections and compiled from it the “People’s Program”. Our initiative was in the draft of this program, but for some reason was not included in the final version. But we will continue to promote this idea and ask grandmothers and grandfathers what remuneration they themselves want. Perhaps right now the state does not have the money to implement our proposal. But if we want to have a large multigenerational family, we should help the older generation,” concludes Zolotnitskaya.

We should add that the study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Project № 20-011-00280 “Activation of parental labor of forefathers (grandparents), implemented in relation to their grandchildren as a strategy to increase the birth rate in Russia”).