MPIDR Working Paper

On the structural value of children and its implication on intended fertility in Bulgaria

Bühler, C.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2006-003, 41 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (February 2006)
Open Access


Personal networks receive increasing recognition as structural determinants of fertility. However, the network perspective also helps to explain personal motivations for having children. Using theories of interpersonal exchange and of the value of children, it is argued that children can substantively alter and improve their parents’ social networks. Individuals perceive this potential advantageous development as a structural benefit and consider this value in their reproductive decisions. Data from Bulgaria, collected in 2002, support this argument. The intentions of females and males to have a first or second child are positively influenced by at least one structural value. Women’s intentions are promoted by the prospect that a child will bring their parents and relatives closer or will strengthen the bond with the partner. Male’s intentions are closely associated with the expectation that a child will improve their security at old age.
Keywords: Bulgaria, costs, decision making, fertility determinants, social capital, social network, value of children
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.