Journal Article

Fertility and union formation during crisis and societal consolidation in the Western Balkans

Lerch, M.
Population Studies, 72:2, 217–234 (2018)
Open Access


Fertility decline in central and eastern Europe (CEE) since the fall of the communist regimes has been driven by both stopping and postponement of childbearing: two processes that have been related to crisis and economic development, respectively. In the Western Balkans these economic and political contexts followed each other in the form of a biphasic transition. I examine whether this sequence triggered fertility responses like those observed elsewhere. Relying on three independent data sources, I cross-validate the levels of, and describe the trends in, union formation and fertility (by birth order) between 1980 and 2010. Results do not reveal widespread declines in fertility to lowest-low levels during the most acute period of crisis. The subsequent postponement of marriage and first birth was also limited, and the two-child family remains the norm. This relative resilience of childbearing patterns compared with other CEE countries is discussed with reference to the institutional context.

Keywords: economic recession, fertility decline, first marriage, parity progression ratio, war
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