United Nations Development Programme

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UN STUDY: WHAT IS THE MEANING OF FAMILY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN RUSSIA TODAY

Moscow, 11th November, 2008 Today, at the RIA Novosti Agency (Russian Information Agency) the Gender Theme Group of the UN System's Organizations in Russian Federation presented the findings of the "Family strategies of university students in contemporary Russia" research.

The year 2008 was widely announced as The Year of Family in Russia. Nowadays, family issues are raised by many, not experts alone, but also politicians and government representatives. It witnesses about the necessity of wide public discussion of what modern Russian family is, how it is structured and what its perspectives are. Such a comprehensive discussion would help to form a new modality of interactions between family, state and society.

The discussion of the UN research findings was contributed by experts in population studies, academia representatives from the Russian Academy of Public Service under the President of Russian Federation and journalists.

The research was presented by:
- Dr. Natalia GRIGORYEVA, PhD in political sciences, lecturer of the Lomonosov Moscow State University;
- Prof. Lyudmila VASILENKO, PhD in sociological sciences, Russian Academy of Civil Service under the President of Russian Federation;
- Galina KALINAYEVA, Gender Advisor for the United Nations Development Program in Russia, coordinator of the United Nations Interagency Thematic Group on Gender.

Studying the strategies of family behavior of young people and students in particular seems to be especially topical, taking into consideration worsening demographic situation in the country, the role of youth in replacing former generations and in social structure in general. The conducted research can be considered one of the first steps in this direction, undertaken after the adoption of the new Concept of Demographic Development in Russia was adopted (2007), and introduction of a number of legislative measures on fertility stimulation. This study is not a finished portrait of students audience, but rather a sketch enabling to see some elements of future picture.

Therefore, the research was focused on university students in Russia and their attitudes towards family, the issues of fertility and marriages, state demographic policy, the development of own marital strategies/family behaviors, forming personal values and motivations in realizing life-cycle strategies.

The research includes the following parts:


  • Models of family in transforming Russian society

  • Family/marital studies in soviet and post-soviet periods

  • Gender aspects of family/marital studies

  • The study of various aspects of family, fertility and demographic issues conducted with the support of UNDP in Russia

  • The study of family strategies of university students: pilot projects in Moscow and Irkutsk

  • Internet poll of the FINAM Investment Holding.


The authors of the research made the following findings:

  • Students find difficulty in defining family. There is significant divergence in interpretation of its meaning.

  • When defining life success, students mention, first of all, factors of material well-being and career growth. As for now, family and children are not socially important priorities in their values system. They didnt disappear at all, but lost significance in their position.

  • The state can consider university students as an active subject of demographic behavior and take it into account in its demographic policies.

  • Majority in this group consider education and further professional activities as an indicator of current status and the basis for career achievements.

  • Students have advantages as subjects of state demographic policy. In their family behavior, they tend to rely on their own and see education as an essential condition for interesting and highly paid job in future and material well-being. But such a position is typical mainly for students of leading educational institutions whose graduates are always highly demanded in labor market today.

  • Predominantly, students reckon on the state in providing support to purchase housing facilities. At the same time, they do not think of getting free housing; there is no attitude of dependency. The main conclusion steaming from the analyses of responses is that it is important and necessary to implement a competent state housing policy for young families to facilitate early purchasing of housing. Therefore, priorities must be schemes involving a guaranteed mechanism of credits and subsidies, preferential conditions for mortgage etc., free from complicated bureaucratic procedures and available for students, who are future young professionals and future young parents.


This project used the results of pilot surveys previously conducted in the framework of projects by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), World Health Organization (WHO), International Labor Organization (ILO), UNICEF, as well as materials of other studies and polls conducted by Russian experts during recent years. In particular, there were findings of the pilot projects implemented in Moscow and Irkutsk, as well as the results of Internet poll presented at the event.

For further information, please, contact: Galina Kalinaeva, Gender Advisor for the United Nations Development Program in Russia, coordinator of the UN interagency Thematic Group on Gender,
tel. 787-21-61; galina.kalinaeva@undp.org
Full text of the research will posted on the UNDP Russia website.

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