“Russian Wives”: at the International Marriage Market

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Director; Head of the Department of Demographic and Migration Policy; Professor
Institute for Socio-Political Studies of the FCTAS RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Occupation: Leading Researcher at the Center of Social Demography; Assoc. Prof.
Institute of Socio-Political Researches FCTAS RAS
Moscow Aviation Institute (National Research University)
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameSotsiologicheskie issledovaniya
EditionIssue 2

The international marriage market is considered both as a demographic category and as a socio-cultural phenomenon formed under the influence of international migration. The scale of the marriage emigration increased sharply after the collapse of the USSR. «Russian wives» phenomenon has become a kind of sociocultural brand in the international marriage market. It includes women from Russia and post-Soviet countries who speak Russian and have a Slavic appearance. There were four directions of marriage emigration of Russian and Russian-speaking women: North American, European, Asian, and Middle Eastern. Many “Russian wives” are well adapted and successfully integrated in host countries. Some of them face difficulties and barriers: poor language skills, mental and cultural differences. Sometimes misunderstanding leads to a break in relations with husbands. However, Russian and Russian- speaking women rarely return to their homeland in the case of divorce and try to re-find a husband abroad. Marriage emigration of women from Russia in the vast majority of cases becomes irrevocable, and therefore the country loses its female population, its gene pool. The increase of marriage migration has led to establishment of the infrastructure of the marriage market on international scale. In addition the shadow sector of this market was formed represented by groups engaged in illegal activities related to trafficking.

Keywordsinternational marriage market, marriage emigration, “Russian wives”, foreign husbands, marriage agencies, adaptation, barriers to integration
AcknowledgmentThe study was assisted by a grant from the Presidential Grants Council, project No. МК-2984.2017.6.
Publication date16.03.2020
Number of characters34665
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