Fertility has unanimously declined across the entire post-communist region. This study explores the variation in fertility trends over time among these countries and assesses to what degree three explanations are applicable: second demographic transition (SDT), postponement transition (PPT) or reaction to the economic crisis. Moreover, on the basis of SDT and PPT theoretical tenets, as well as descriptive evidence, the economic context is hypothesized to be linked to two processes of fertility decline conversely. The results show that no one theoretical explanation is sufficient to explain the complex fertility declines across the entire post-communist region from 1990 to 2003. In some countries, a great part of the decline in fertility occurred before significant postponement of childbearing began, which indicates that the dramatic decline was due to stopping behavior or postponement of higher order births. Postponement of first births, either through PPT or SDT processes, greatly contributed to fertility decline in a small number of countries. Pooled cross-sectional time-series analyses of age-specific birthrates confirm that these two distinct processes are present and show that the economic crisis explanation has explanatory power for declining birth rates. In contrast, logistic regressions show that the likelihood of postponing childbirth increases with improved economic conditions. These results confirm the importance of taking the economic context into account when discussing explanations for fertility decline. More specifically, the results indicate that the severity and duration of economic crisis, or absence thereof, influenced the extent and manner in which fertility declined.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 21, 2009
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