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History, population policies, and fertility decline in Eastern Europe: A case study

Domenii publicaţii > Ştiinţe sociale + Tipuri publicaţii > Articol în revistã ştiinţificã

Autori: Bradatan, Cristina; Glenn Firebaugh

Editorial: Journal of Family History, p.179-192, 2007.


The turbulent history of Eastern Europe in the 1990s (change in political regimes, Yugoslavian war, Kosovo problem) drew a lot of attention from the media, and researchers generally followed suit. Thus it became customary, both in the media and in academic discussions, to describe Eastern Europe as a “region in transition” politically, economically, and socially. Among all the transformative events happening in the East part of the old continent, demographic changes – more silent, less-newsworthy phenomena – were described only by demographers, often with many new figures, but not many new explanations. The explanations generally evolved around the same ideas that dominated the discourse on Eastern Europe in the media: people change their demographic behavior (have fewer children, die younger, and some migrate outside of the region) because of the anomie that follows social and economic turbulence of the scale seen in Eastern Europe in the 1990s.
While we do not dispute the claim that Eastern Europe has been a region in transition, in the case of fertility change we contend that the trends in the 1990s can also be seen as a continuation of historical trends of the 1960s, and not only as a change caused by the anomie and uncertainty people experience in tumultuous times. Although anomie and poverty no doubt contributed to the fertility decline in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, we believe the evidence suggests that concomitant changes in fertility policy were at least as critical for the 1990s decline in fertility. Using the case study of Romania, we show that population policy – defined as a macro level factor, a system of constraints and opportunities in which couples/individuals make decisions regarding when and how many children to have plays an important and often-neglected role.

Cuvinte cheie: fertility, population policies, Eastern Europe