MPIDR Working Paper
Retraditionalization as a pathway to escape lowest-low fertility? Characteristics and prospects of the Eastern European “baby boom”
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2019-014, 31 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (July 2019)
Keywords: Belarus, below-replacement fertility, cohort fertility, cumulative fertility, fertility increase, life tables
Over the last two decades, Belarus and Russia have witnessed substantial fertility increases that have catapulted their total fertility rates from lowest-low fertility to levels above 1.7 children per woman. While it is frequently argued that greater gender equality is an important mechanism for overcoming low fertility, these developments seem to have instead been accompanied by a retraditionalization of gender attitudes. This paper uses the 2017 Belarusian Generations and Gender Survey to investigate the characteristics and prospects of the Eastern European “baby boom.” We show that the fertility increases are driven by two main components: the recuperation of births postponed during the preceding post-communist transition crisis, and fertility increases among cohorts born in the 1980s. These cohorts also display very traditional gender attitudes. While the recuperation will not have a long-term impact, it is more uncertain whether or not the cohort fertility increases will be sustained.