FERTILITY AND FAMILY FORMATION AND DISSOLUTION: COMPARING POLAND AND ESTONIA, 1989 - 2005
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The article presents a comparative analysis of changes in fertility and family formation and dissolution, in Poland and Estonia, in the years 1989-2005. Both countries were members of the socialist bloc and launched political, economic and social system reforms at the end of the 1980s. Estonia belongs to Northern Europe, geographically referred to as Baltoscandia, and Poland to the region of Central Europe. Using basic demographic indicators, and the position of Poland and Estonia in Europe, fertility and family related processes are analysed in the context of their transformation in European countries. The article consists of two parts. The first one presents an assessment of changes in fertility. In addition to general indicators, the Bongaarts–Feeney formula is applied to measure the tempo and quantum effects during the period of rapid fertility transformation. The second part focuses on family formation and dissolution process. Both fertility and family changes, in Poland and Estonia, are considered in the broader European perspective. The findings concerning the diversity of analysed demographic changes may be summarized as follows. Both countries differ in terms of the tempo of changes, that began at the turn of the 1990s. In Estonia, the changes followed a steeper trajectory, with the drop of fertility and marriage rates to bottom levels during 6-8 years after the onset of transformation. After reaching the lowest point, both fertility and marriage rates entered a new stage and started to recuperate. In Poland, the changes featured a more gradual profile and were spread over a longer period. Although the decrease has slowed down with respect to fertility as well as marriage rates, the data until 2005 do not yet reveal any significant recuperation. Another country-specific feature of fertility and family transformation concerns the interrelationship between fertility and nuptiality. Although gradually weakening, Poland still features a relatively strong connection between childbearing and registered marriage, which is reflected in a comparatively low share of children born outside wedlock and a modest prevalence of non-married cohabitation among young people. In Estonia, the disconnection of fertility from marriage and the spread of pre-marital cohabitation started nearly at the same time as in the Scandinavian countries and accelerated rapidly, since the onset of societal transition. The strengthening of these dissimilarities was also revealed by comparisons with other European nations. The results of the Bongaarts-Feeney's model also seem to indicate, that the observed differences are likely to persist in the foreseeable future. In general, the results support the assertion, that among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Estonia and Poland provide valuable grounds for in-depth comparative research, on the recent fertility and family changes. Life history data, available due to the new round of national surveys carried out in both countries after the turn of the millennium, offer a favourable basis for in-depth studies, along the envisaged lines.
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