Coming of Age in North Caucasus Not What It Used to Be, Russian Scholar Says

Monday, June 3, 2019

Coming of Age in North Caucasus Not What It Used to Be, Russian Scholar Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 3 – The transition to adulthood, from the time of leaving school to the birth of a first child, was until recently in the North Caucasus strictly defined by traditional patterns, Yekaterina Mitrofanova, a specialist at the Moscow Institute of Demography. But now it is changing rapidly, increasingly diverse across the region and faster for men than for women.

            In an article in the current issue of the Russian-language Journal for Research on Social Policy ( that has now been summarized by Yekaterina Mitrofanova of the IQ portal (, the demographer says that there have been more changes in the socio-economic events than in the socio-demographic.

            The first of these includes completing school, financial independence and a first job; the second, the beginning of sexual relations, marriage (partnership), and the birth of children.  Several decades ago, both were predictable for almost all people in  the North Caucasus, the researcher says; now, many are changing at a rapid rate.

            Nonetheless, the sociodemographic markers of coming of age remain almost completely traditional in the region, Mitrofanova says. One example of this is that the time between first sexual experiences and marriage and children is as it has been in the past very short, especially in comparison to other parts of Russia where it is getting longer and longer.

            Relatively few North Caucasian couples have experience of living together before getting married, and people in the region remain committed to the idea that children must be born to settled families, again setting the region at odds with the rest of the Russian Federation, the demographer says.

            Women in the North Caucasus have their first child earlier and have more children than do women elsewhere in Russia, although over the last 30 years, the average fertility rate in the region has declined significantly.  What is unchanged is that North Caucasian women do not seem prepared to put off marriage and childbirth until much later in life.

            One life experience that may matter politically is that the time period between school graduation and taking a first job is about two years in the North Caucasus for men and just under a year for women. All other people in Russia, Mitrofanova continues, average only “about three months” between school and work.

            The Moscow scholar does not mention it, but this gap between school and work has implications for protest movements in the region. Young people there are at loose ends for longer than they are elsewhere and thus are more likely to be drawn into radical movements than are their coevals elsewhere in Russia.

Posted by paul goble at 4:39 PM

Share Button