MPIDR Working Paper

Social capital related to fertility: theoretical foundations and empirical evidence from Bulgaria

Bühler, C., Philipov, D.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2005-016, 32 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (June 2005)
This working paper is a translated and completely revised version of the working paper WP-2004-024 by Christoph Bühler and Dimiter Philipov: "Zur Bedeutung sozialen Kapitals für Fertilitätsentscheidungen: theoretische und empirische Darstellungen am Beispiel Bulgariens". Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock 2004, 43 p. Internet:
Open Access


Interpersonal relationships of support have been found to be an important factor in individual fertility intentions in Central and Eastern European countries. The foundations of this positive influence have not been well explored to date, however. We present a theoretical discussion on exchange-based social capital and argue that processes of interpersonal exchange are relevant for reproductive decisions when they provide access to resources that help to reduce the costs of having children and stabilize the economic situation of a household. Data from 2002 on the fertility intentions of 2,016 Bulgarian women support our argument. The availability of important and substantive resources has a positive impact on women’s intentions to have a second or third child and their timing of having a first or second child. The embededness in kin-based exchange systems of indirect reciprocity shows similar positive effects and highlights especially the significance of parents as a source of intergenerational transfers and support.
Keywords: Bulgaria, fertility determinants, social capital
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