Fertility and union formation during crisis and societal consolidation in the Western Balkans
Population Studies, 72:2, 217–234 (2018)
Keywords: economic recession, fertility decline, first marriage, parity progression ratio, war
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.