Family life transitions of young women in a changing society: first union formation and birth of first child in the Czech Republic, 1970-1997
313 pages. Prague, Charles University (2004)
In the Czech Republic, important changes have occurred in the life courses of women in the 1990s. This has been reflected in demographic terms in the decline of marriage and fertility intensities, the rise of non-marital births and the higher prevalence of cohabitation. These demographic developments are in sharp contrast to the situation in the previous two decades. The goal of this study was to gain insight into the transitions to first union and to first childbirth, giving explicit attention to the role of women’s education and employment. Two historical periods were compared: the state socialism of the 1970s-80s and the social and economic transformation in the 1990s. The study of union formation and entry into motherhood was carried out with a multivariate event history analysis. We used individual data from the Czech Fertility and Family Survey 1997 on the life course of 1,735 women born between 1952 and 1982. The study documented profound changes in the life course of young women. In the theoretical discussion of our results we had threefold objective: 1) the ‘rational actor’ models of the economics of family; 2) the second demographic transition drawing on work by van de Kaa and Lesthaeghe; 3) institutional explanations of life course patterns, both in the broad contextual setting of state institutions (comparing state-socialism with the transition period) and more particularly in the context of family policies (comparing those policies with strong pronatalist aims of the 1970s and 80s with the family policies in the 1990s).