How did changes in female educational structure affect fertility in state socialism? Evidence from seven Central and South Eastern European countries

Zuzanna Brzozowska, Vienna Institute of Demography and Warsaw School of Economics

This paper shows that cohort fertility decline and a strong negative educational gradient in completed fertility had been present behind the Iron Curtain long before the collapse of communism. In order to study the macro-level relationship between women’s educational expansion and completed fertility under state socialism in Europe, I address two broad questions. The first one concerns the role of education in fertility decline. I examine trends in completed fertility by education, cohort and country, I analyse changes in women’s educational structure and quantify their effect on cohort fertility. The second question refers to trends in childlessness and parity-specific fertility (net of the structural shifts). Again, I look at their variation between educational groups, cohorts and countries. I use data on completed fertility by level of education from population censuses and one large-scale survey in the following countries: the Czech Republic (1991, 2001), Croatia (2001), Hungary (2001), Poland (Fertility Survey that accompanied the 2002 census), Romania (1992, 2002), Slovakia (2001) and Slovenia(2002). I include in the analysis women aged between 40 and 75, i.e. whose whole or main part of the reproductive careers took place in the times of state-socialism. To answer questions mentioned above I employ the decomposition analysis: I decompose the fertility changes into structural and direct components. Complementary, I use direct and indirect standardisation to develop different fertility scenarios. Results suggest that a common “socialist” completed fertility pattern did not exist. Although changes in educational structure seem to have pushed fertility down in all analysed countries, there were substantial differences both in general fertility trends and in the importance of educational changes for completed fertility. Also, completed fertility net of structural changes varied by country.

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Presented in Session 71: Special thematic session on fertility transition: opportunities and threats