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10 Nov, 2023 14:52

Top Russian senator proposes free housing for large families

The measure could yield a needed increase in the country’s birth rate, Valentina Matvienko believes
Top Russian senator proposes free housing for large families

State-sponsored apartments should be provided to families once they give birth to a third child, the speaker of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, Valentina Matvienko, has said.

Speaking during a session of the Federation Council on Thursday, the senior lawmaker brought up a policy that she had in place in St Petersburg, where she served as city governor in the 2000s.

“As soon as a third child was born, the family would be put into the pipeline, and no less than a year later they would get an apartment from the state,” she told fellow senators.

She said similar mechanisms for upgrading housing conditions could be introduced on a national level, possibly including discounts and budget co-payments on mortgages for wealthier parents. Supporting families with many kids “should be a priority” for the government, she urged.

“Knowing for certain that a new home would be provided once the third child is born may be the deciding factor” for choosing to have more children than initially planned, Matvienko argued.

The official described the current demographic situation in the country as difficult, because the total fertility rate continues to decline. In the first half of 2023 alone, it decreased by 3%, Matvienko pointed out.

According to the Russian national statistics agency, Rosstat, the country’s population (excluding the new regions) is expected to decrease by over 7.6 million people by January 2046. However, the agency projected last month that in 2028 the current negative trend in the national birth rate will become positive. By 2045, it may reach 10.3 births per 1,000 people, compared to 8.5 in 2023, Rosstat said. This level corresponds to 1.663 babies born per woman during a lifetime.

Most Russians of both genders want to have two children, according to Rosstat. A single-child family is the second most popular option.