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.