Author of tax on childlessness: ''I am glad that United Russia has already refused the project''

Yury Krupnov is afraid of going outside after his idea to increase birth rate

Author of tax on childlessness: ''I am glad that United Russia has already refused the project'' Photo: pnp.ru

On 9 May, Director of Institute of Demography, Migration and Regional Development Yury Krupnov sent the Russian president a project of the concept of federal law on Status of Large Families that presupposes a transition of this group of population to an elite social class of Russia. Despite the general positive message, the project caused an uproar among people. The thing is that the document additionally presupposes an imposition of a tax on childlessness. Realnoe Vremya reached out to Yury Krupnov and asked him whether he is afraid of people's anger, if there are objective reasons to refuse to have many kids and when Russians disappear.

''We are just becoming extinct. We need to talk about it clearly without populism and attempts to muddy the waters''

Mr Krupnov, what do you personally think of the current situation in Russia? What is going on with demography?

The sense of appearance of such a concept and project precisely comes from the current state of demography. If we open the page of Russian Statistics Service, we have a total collapse of birth rate in every Russian region in the first quarter of the year except Chukotka – birth rate dropped just 5-15%. Russian Statistics Service is finally bringing us to reality after 6 years of relative statistical well-being in demography. A new pit is starting. It will be at least as deep as in the 90s and likely deeper until about 2030.

Reproduction coefficient is 1,7-1,8. In our situation, we need at least 2,15, rather 2,4 relative kids per woman. If we remain in the same situation we are in now, from a perspective of the demographic policy, we will be twice less in 80 years, by the end of the century (in addition, I am not talking about the ethnic composition).

Yes, we had some rise but less than in the late 80s. But now we have a pit that is bigger than in the 90s. There will be a small rise in the early 30s but considerably less than in the last 5 years. In other words, we are seeing a kind of damped sinusoid. We are just becoming extinct. We need to talk about it clearly without populism and attempts to muddy the waters.

''If we open the page of Russian Statistics Service, we have a total collapse of birth rate in every Russian region in the first quarter of the year except Chukotka – birth rate dropped just 5-15%. Russian Statistics Service is finally bringing us to reality after 6 years of relative statistical well-being in demography.'' Photo: prav.tatarstan.ru

Did we manage to overcome the ''Russian cross'' in demography, in general?

Now mortality rate can be approximately at the same level. There is not a sudden growth, and there won't be any. Speaking about the keynote of the question, it is the same cross. Mortality and birth rate just bent – the ''Russian cross'' already exists. It won't be so distinctive further on because mortality rate will not grow so suddenly due to the population's ageing. But birth rate will fall sharply.

Do you think we will be able to increase birth rate?

The chances are almost zero. What we offer in the concept of federal law On Status of Large Families is a task that I will call fantastic myself, of course. But do we have another choice? Extinction of the country is an alternative. This is why we should not discuss its impossibility but how to make it real.

If a half of all families doesn't have three or more kids by 2040, we won't conserve the number of the population. We need to increase the number large families seven times. And it is a fantastic goal, which is much complicated than nuclear or space projects. It is a goal comparable with the victory in Great War.

By the way, I wrote the letter to the president on 9 May for a reason. Today we, in fact, are in the same state of a very difficult war. But if shots and deaths threatened somehow there, here everything is happening calmly, slowly. One can withstand. But in the end, the result is the same.

''I don't want the Russians in general and Russia to disappear from history''

You write in the project that ''Russians, in fact, orientate to the least number of kids''. There are likely to be objective reasons.

There are not objective reasons, you know, if you like. There is a destruction of traditional values and implementation of new cultural settings. Generally speaking, we are not talking about some exclusive Russian issues – economic matters or something. We are talking about a global, world problem because even Central African and South Asian countries that are showing a big growth of population now will be in a situation that is analogous to ours in 30-40 years. The global problem is that humanity refuses to give birth if we are speaking about developed countries.

''Now people are justifying themselves accusing the economy and some other difficulties, justifying the possibility to refuse kids by all means making up pseudoscientific arguments.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

Mr Krupnov, maybe it is fine if we consider talks about overpopulation of the planet?

These are talks [about overpopulation] of those who would like, for example, Russia to disappear. Without jokes and conspiracy. Overpopulation is a myth. It was showed and proved ten times in the UN and CIA, in works of Sergey Kapitsa. There will be a life-changing moment by 2040 or 2050, humanity will total 10-11 billion and start reducing. In other words, there is no, moreover, real overpopulation.

In general, all Russian Federation – 150 million people – can be accommodated in a central region. Overpopulation is not the point — basic cultural settings and values are broken. The value of kids and a large family is disappearing giving way to the values that have always been present (did not the value of career or wealth exist?). However, nobody thought in the past they could achieve it by means of kids. Now people are justifying themselves accusing the economy and some other difficulties, justifying the possibility to refuse kids by all means making up pseudo-scientific arguments.

But in your project you are talking about specifically Russia, not other countries.

I don't want the Russians in general and Russia from history and crawl to the ethnic cemetery.

Mr Krupnov, if we focus on Russia, economic reasons affect the decision of people to have as few as kids as possible to a great degree apart the change of values you are talking about…

No, no. We have never lived so well from a perspective of consumer opportunities. In my opinion, it is an absolutely wrong perception. On the contrary. I am not talking ''if only our grandparents had got 1/10 of the opportunities we have''.

Father Dmitry Smirnov told a story 10 years ago. A parishioner came to him and said: ''I don't want to give birth any more, I don't want to reproduce poorness''. He asked what was going on, and she replied: ''I have two houses in Rublyovka. If I have the third kid, there is not a third house for it.'' People are also concerned about giving birth to poorness, you know. There is not a limit. The point is different – values are the point.

''It is necessary to clearly understand: all our social and economic system is built on the idea of obligatory childlessness. In other words, kids are an obstacle to the economy and everything.'' Photo: prav.tatarstan.ru

''They are quite relative. These digits require more serious calculations…''

Mr Krupnov, let's switch to your project. One of the offers is to fix monthly payments for large families with 3-4, 5-7 and 8 and more kids at 25, 45 and 100,000 rubles respectively. Could you specify where these numbers come from?

They are quite relative. These digits require more serious calculations. But we are talking about average numbers in the country… A family with three kids on average in the country is put as an example. Then the number increases twice for a family with five kids, etc.

According to your project, a large family having a mortgage can get about a 20% compensation per kid when the fourth and every next kid is born. Who will return the money? What money is it?

Here it is necessary to clearly understand: all our social and economic system is built on the idea of obligatory childlessness. In other words, kids are an obstacle to the economy and everything. Secondly, in fact, we have not coped with the crisis since 2009. Now oil prices are falling. In general, we will fall behind if we leave the same economic model. I agree with you that we should not build castles in the air and dream of adding what we offer in the project to the budget, which is already in deficit. The main problem is to have a new economy.

As we started to talk about numbers. Do you think that maternity capital helped demography?

Maternity capital is one of the great decisions. By our calculations, maternal capital has ensured about a 15% growth in birth rate in the last 10 years. It is a great phenomenon. But it is not enough to solve the problem.

Fund of Future that will consist of different money including a 1% common tax supporting many children is important. Were not you confused that it is an additional tax load that few people need now?

I was not. They are welcome to criticise. Another thing confuses me: if I ask people to give 600 rubles to pay the Internet per month, they will give this money without thinking twice. But 600 rubles are 1% of 60,000 rubles of salary, which is not widely spread in the country. But if I say it is not for the Internet but the future of the country, to live, they will start saying: ''What? Tax! A rip-off!''

''Maternity capital is one of the great decisions. By our calculations, maternal capital has ensured about a 15% growth in birth rate in the last 10 years. It is a great phenomenon. But it is not enough to solve the problem.'' Photo: pfrf.ru

''I am glad that United Russia has already refused the project''

The fund will also receive money through a special tax on childlessness. Have you already been criticised for this offer?

Yes, to put it mildly. I am already afraid of going outside.

Joking apart

I am serious, joking apart. As it was made the main idea, though it is one of the 150 measures in our project that was formulated approximately, as our nation is annoyed with any money asked by the country, consequently, these people perceived me as if I had been hired by some United Russia to explain the next tax.

The main thing I was told today is that these are exactions, and it will give nothing. But these are all populist statements. By the way, I am glad that United Russia has already refused the project. They stole everything possible. But in this specific case, they are good.

That it so say, is it fine to take money from a person because he deals with his reproduction as he wants (even in the context of our demographic situation)?

It is more than fine. In addition, if you support positive measures to stimulate large families (for instance, an analogue of salary), it will be putting your hand in other people's pocket.

In conclusion, Mr Krupnov, could you tell this project is real or an utopia?

An utopia is that I have to explain it. It means a person who needs to move his arms to swim and not to sink says: ''Isn't it a utopia that I need to row?'' Of course, it is better to gradually reach the bottom. It is a utopia. A great deal of exactions that exist today and don't refer to anything are not a utopia, of course. It is a matter of values again, you know.

By Lina Sarimova