Organized Labor in Russian Maternity Wards


When governments enact poorly planned "baby bonus" schemes, they incentivize women to artificially delay or induce births. Economist Andrew Leigh was writing about this years ago, but apparently no one told Sergei Morozov, founder of "Give Birth to a Patriot on Russia Day" and governor of Ulyanovsk. Over at Slate, Yasha Levine surveys the bumper crop of patriots:

Women who gave birth on June 12 would be guaranteed one of a variety of prizes—refrigerators, TV sets, washing machines, even cash, and one lucky family would be picked to win the grand prize: a brand-new Russian-made jeep called the UAZ-Patriot.

On June 12, while Russia enjoyed its day off, doctors all over Ulyanovsk struggled to survive the most hellish day of their professional careers. The region's maternity wards, which usually stood half-empty, were suddenly filled beyond maximum capacity. Masses of screaming pregnant women seemed to materialize out of thin air. Stressed-out and sleep-deprived doctors ran around frantically attending to patients. Most doctors were forced to work multiple shifts just to keep up with demand.

One woman recalled seeing a young mother-to-be repeatedly attempt to fake contractions in order to be admitted to the hospital, while some women who were already inside begged their doctors to perform cesarean sections. Another woman recalled thinking that many of the C-sections performed that day were rushed through unnecessarily…Another woman told me she overheard doctors talking about prescribing so many labor-inducing drugs that they ran out and had to order a new shipment. There was also a rumor that the hospital that delivered the most babies on June 12 was going to be rewarded by the regional government, possibly with cash. Only one of the women admitted, with much shame and humiliation, that her doctor pressured her to induce labor.

More ways to bribe your women into birthing here.

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  1. Sergei, I’ll take the porcelain Dalmatian and put the rest on a gift card.

  2. This whole episode is too stupid for even the Russkies.

    Who could have predicted this result?
    Smart 3rd graders and dumb 6th graders. Obviously not the geniuses in the Kremlin though.

  3. New mom gets 500 bonus points for bringing up the porcelain dalmation.

  4. Heh, “incentive” meets “unintended consequences.”

    They’re still not very good at economics, are they?

  5. And . . . for the auto-ad, we have “Find Your Russian Beauty Today!”

    After this article, some of the bloom is off that rose.

  6. Google’s contextual ads are awesome.

  7. So June is busting out all over?

  8. I hereby request that H&R include the word Russian in all future postings.

  9. In the old days, a Soviet woman who gave birth to ten children would be proclaimed “Mat’ Geroi” (“Hero Mother”), and receive a medal.

    I guess now Russian women want a little more.

  10. And . . . for the auto-ad, we have “Find Your Russian Beauty Today!”

    But no bonus prize. She doesn’t look pregnant.

  11. Me, I bribe my woman OUT OF birthing!

    The Russian bride ad isn’t nearly as good as the lesbian singles ad from yesterday.

  12. No, she doesn’t look pregnant, but I bet a lot of H&R readers are thinking up ways to correct that oversight.

  13. And . . . for the auto-ad, we have “Find Your Russian Beauty Today!”

    Pfft. It’s way too late to get a porcelain dalmatian now. Why bother?

  14. I can almost understand the whole inventive for babies idea, but why would they do it all in one day? That’s just going from not well thought out to epic stupidity beyond comprehension.

  15. Only in Russia. The worlds most venal and stupid bureaucrats – 3 centuries now and counting.

  16. Hold up, let’s see… June 12, 2009… nine months… May, April, March… OK, OK:

    Any blond Russian women who need to make this happen for next year, please be sure to see me exactly two months from today. September 12. We can make this work!

  17. Cash for babies (or alternate incentives, like subsidized or free child care) is a good idea in countries with declining birth rates, but you don’t do it all on one day, which is amazingly retarded. You either phase it in, or, better still, make it effective the date the bill passes or even slightly retroactive.

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