Pravda 06/25/2004

More and more Russians who get married, come back to the registry office to divorce.

The current ratio of marriages to divorces in Russia is 1000:800. Less number of children are born: there were 36 million children in Russia in 1989, currently we have only 26.3 million children.

The number of families with no children is increasing. Families are becoming smaller - 65 percent of parents have only one child, 28 percent - two children, only 7 percent have three and more kids. According to sociologists, after the divorce the woman with a kid (or with no kids) has little chance of getting married again.

There is no man to get marry to: mortality rate of the men of working age is extremely high. The number of women in their 30s exceeds the number of men significantly. 700,000 of Russian children have no parents to care about them, one third of these children end up in orphanages. More than 50,000 children escape from home every year. 

The West also has many trends of the Russian family. People marry at older age, many couples do not get married, many people prefer having several marriages in the course of their lives, the birth of the first child is postponed for future, the number of kids in the family is reducing - both the West and Russia have all this.

However, different things cause family collapse in Russia: poverty, lack of social guarantees, terrible level of health care, alcoholism, problems with housing.

According to public opinion poll, if the family has decent income and one of the parents of the kids gets sick, they end up in poverty soon, and nothing can draw them out of poverty after this.

The recent survey of Levada-Center demonstrated that everybody in Russia, even wealthy people, are scared to become poor. The second child in the family indicates not only the family stability but the person"s confidence about stable future. The majority of Russians have not this confidence so far.



June 25, 2004

By Yolanda Young

This is the peak wedding season, but for many African-Americans, who marry at a rate lower than any other ethnic group, in the place of wishful anticipation is a sense of hopelessness.

This is especially true for black women, only 31% of whom have husbands compared with 54% for whites; 50% will not be married by age 40.

This is largely because of the high number of black males who are incarcerated, jobless or in interracial relationships. Even more sobering are studies that project 70% of black marriages will end in divorce.

Reports suggest that married people live longer and are less likely to commit suicide, suffer from alcoholism, depression or acute and chronic illnesses. They earn more, save more, are promoted faster and have better sex lives.

Conversely, studies show children of single-parent households have a higher rate of infant mortality and behavioral problems and are twice as likely to drop out of school. Even so, these factors are not proving to be enough of an incentive to keep black couples together.

Family therapist Audrey Chapman says black couples face more obstacles than whites. Education and finance affect all marriages, she says, but because of higher rates of unemployment and underemployment, black couples are affected more. Also, because many blacks have been raised in single-parent or dysfunctional two-parent families, they do not have a template of a successful marriage.

Couples, activists and the government are realizing that there may be no better place to turn for a message of hope on marriage than the black church.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that couples for whom religion was important divorced at a lower rate than other couples.

This month, the Brookings Institution conducted a panel discussion called "The Marriage Movement and the Black Church." And House Republicans have introduced a measure that would provide funding to religious institutions to promote healthy marriages.

Though Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, does not believe that marriage can be legislated, he says African-Americans should seek out institutions, such as the church, that provide a nurturing environment. Chapman, too, concedes that her clients with religious influences fare better.

It seems for African-Americans to make their marriages work, they've got to have faith.

Yolanda Young is author of On Our Way to Beautiful: A Family Memoir.