ISSN 2409-2274

Orthodox self-identification and the distribution of birthdays of VK users

Vitaly Grigoriev  1, Daria Razumova  2, Alexey Knorre  3

  • 1 St. Petersburg State University, Russia
  • 3 Institute for the Rule of Law (Irl) at the European University at Saint-Petersburg

2017, no4, pp. 110–120


The common belief among Orthodox Christians that intimate relations are forbidden during a fasting period should affect the distribution of the number of births. Orthodoxy being the traditional religion for Russia, most Orthodox Christians acquire their religious beliefs in the course of primary socialization. Therefore, Orthodox self-identification most likely means that a person has at least one Orthodox parent. This makes data from the social network VK (where users have the opportunity to express their religious identity) useful for studying the prevalence of sexual abstinence during the period of fasting. We used a random sample of approximately 725,000 accounts and compared the distribution of births among users who indicated an Orthodox and non-Orthodox identity. The result shows that sexual abstinence during the fasting period exists, but is not substantial. The observed effect can be obtained if about 2% of Orthodox believers strictly avoid intimacy during the fast.

Keywords: fasting; sexual abstinence; Orthodoxy; VK; social networks