Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date

Spring 2020


Fertility, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Second Demographic Transition, Becker, Birth, Post-communist, Total Fertility Rate


The Eastern European Fertility Crisis by Sebastian D. Zgirski

In the years following the 1989 collapse of communism in Eastern and Central Europe, demographers noticed a sharp decline in total fertility rates in many of the countries of the region. While this trend is consistent with a general worldwide trend, it does seem to be even more pronounced in the region, with many countries having fertility rates significantly below replacement. This puzzled demographers as in previous years the region was considered to have some of the highest fertility rates in Europe. Additionally, there is worry that with fertility rates below replacement, these countries with, still, relatively new economies will not be able to sustain themselves. Many scholars have examined this issue, pointing to the various social and economic changes linked with post-communism as explanations for the phenomenon. In particular, scholars point to the Second Demographic Transition theory and Becker’s Economic Crisis Theory as possible explanations. For this paper, I have gathered and examined literature on this topic to learn more about this phenomenon. I have also examined information on the social and economic conditions in countries such as Poland, Russia, Hungary, the Ukraine, and Romania, and synthesized that information to come to conclusions on how post-communist societal conditions in Eastern Europe have influenced the region’s sudden decline in total fertility rates.

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Fertility, Human--Europe, Eastern; Childbirth--Statistics--Europe, Eastern

Geographic Coverage

Europe, Eastern


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