Parental Leave as a Potential Demographic Policy Instrument in Russia: Mixed-Methods Research


  • Anna Bagirova Ural Federal University
  • Natalia Blednova Ural Federal University



Keywords: Demographic policy, parental leave, mixed-methods research, grandparents, parents.


In many countries, parental leave is an effective demographic policy measure. Its regulation is considered an important determinant of the birth rate. In Russia, the parental leave system is not flexible; however, the legislation provides for one of the longest parental leave in the world—36 months. According to a popular stereotype in Russia, as parental leave is longer than in other countries, there is no need to debate its effectiveness. This very reason may explain a lack of parental leave research in Russia.

Our paper aims to demonstrate how mixed-methods research can be applied to study parental leave in Russia. In 2021, to analyse the problem in the Sverdlovsk Region (one of the largest), we did the following:

1) surveyed 500 parents with both children under the age of 12 and currently living parents (i.e., grandparents);

2) surveyed 500 grandparents with grandchildren under the age of 12.

In both surveys, we used river sample. To increase the randomicity of the sample, we recruited respondents using multiple channels and sampled them with equal probability into the population analysed;

3) conducted focus groups with parents having both children under the age of 12 and currently living parents and with grandparents having grandchildren under the age of 12.

Our mixed-methods research yielded the following results.

  1. The parents surveyed view mothers as primary leave-takers. They also refer to grandmothers (most often, maternal ones) and fathers as potential leave-takers.
  2. Grandparents’ opinions on leave-takers are also diverse; their responses vary as much as parents’ ones. However, they are more restraint in terms of their own role as potential leave-takers.
  3. As focus groups revealed, “if a need arises”, parents are willing to delegate the right for parental leave to grandparents, who agree to take it.

Our methodology is based on the mixed-methods research strategy. It allowed us to identify social attitudes towards the existing parental leave system in Russia and to draw attention to its transformation. The results may be of use when developing new mechanisms for the Russian state demographic policy.