Postponement of parenthood in the Balkan countries
Faculty of Social Sciences University of Ljubljana Ljubljana, Slovenia
Low fertility and the postponement of child-bearing are widespread phenomena in Europe, but especially in the Balkan (southeastern European) societies (former Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria). This paper contributes to explicating the factors influencing family formation and child-bearing patterns in the Balkan countries. This is done with the help of a multi-layer and interdisciplinary approach using data from the World Values Survey and the European Values Survey. In particular, the paper addresses: 1) selected structural and institutional trends (e.g. education and employment patterns etc.); 2) partnership and reproductive behaviours; 3) value orientations and attitudes connected with family and gender (e.g. attitudes on gender equality, attitudes on division of household labour etc.). The Balkan countries are compared with the EU 15 and the remaining post-socialist EU member states on these three levels. Besides, the intraregional similarities and differences will be exposed.
On the basis of the analyses, the paper builds upon the second demographic transition concept. The data show a gap between the changed family formation and childbearing patterns (mostly showing the characteristics of second demographic transition, i.e. destandardization of transitions to adulthood, pluralisation of family forms, delayed childbearing, decreasing fertility) and value orientations which are still traditional in most of the Balkan countries. The paper investigates the impact of socio-economic characteristics (such as gender, education level, employment, income, housing, marital status) and family value orientations on childbearing. The reasons behind the trends for low fertility and delayed childbearing are explicated: transitional changes, such as economic decline, decreasing social security, wars etc.