Female Education and Fertility under State Socialism in Central and Eastern Europe

Zuzanna Brzozowska  By the same author


This article analyses trends in completed fertility of women born between 1916 and 1960 in seven countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe (Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). Using census data, decomposition and standardization methods are applied to study the effect of growing educational attainment on cohort fertility, including childlessness and high parity births. The results suggest that the decline in cohort fertility was driven by rising educational enrolment on the one hand and by a reduction in high parity births on the other. These two negative effects were partially counterbalanced by the shrinking proportions of childless women. All in all, the trends in cohort fertility followed similar patterns in the various study countries, but their intensity varied greatly. There does not seem to have existed a specific socialist fertility trend, with one exception : a steady decline in the proportion of childless women (contrasting with an upward tendency in the West among women born after 1940). The results also suggest that in Romania, Poland and Hungary, the strong pronatalist policy measures may have halted the decline in high parity births.