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Fertility in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989 : collapse and gradual recovery

Fertilität in Mittel- und Osteuropa nach 1989 : Kollaps und graduelle Erholung
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Sobotka, Tomás

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Abstract "This contribution looks at the recent transformations of reproductive and family behavior in Central and Eastern Europe and their interpretations. First the author looks at the development of family trends from a long-term perspective, focusing especially on the period of state socialism between the late 1940s and the late 1980s. A subsequent analysis of fertility shifts after 1989 shows that despite similar trends, such as plummeting fertility rates and a postponement of childbearing in the 1990s, considerable diversity in family and fertility patterns has emerged during the 1990s and 2000s. This diversity is manifested by strong contrasts between countries in the spread of cohabitation, non-marital fertility, timing of births and marriages, share of one-child families, as well as abortion rates. Similarly, reproductive behavior more differentiated by social status. Among the few aspects widely shared across countries is a persistent high valuation of parenthood and family life. To discuss these trends, he outlines the contours of societal trends after 1989 and highlight selected theories and explanations of rapid fertility changes. Without being mutually exclusive, four perspectives are particularly useful: the economic crisis/ uncertainty view, the 'second demographic transition', the 'postponement transition' and the 'contraceptive revolution'. The 'postponement transition, manifested by a shift of childbearing to higher reproductive ages, arguably constitutes the most important factors behind fertility declines in the 1990s, as period fertility was strongly negatively affected by such shifts in fertility timing (this influence is often labeled as a 'tempo effect'). Similarly, a gradual fertility increase observed in most countries of the region after 2000, was in part stimulated by a declining 'tempo effect.' Public discourses, however, often ignore such influences and tend to concentrate on the period fertility declines and population declines that took place in most of the region." (author's abstract)
Keywords population development; fertility; Eastern Europe; Central Europe; East Central Europe; historical development; childlessness; declining birth rate; reproduction; abortion; post-communist society; transformation; family; international comparison; twentieth century; EU; Western Europe; comparative research; theory; economic crisis; Europe
Classification Population Studies, Sociology of Population; General History
Method empirical; quantitative empirical; historical; theory application
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
Page/Pages p. 246-296
Journal Historical Social Research, 36 (2011) 2
Issue topic Fertilität in der Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts: Trends, Theorien, Politik, Diskurse
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works