SIGNS OF A STABLE OR PROVISIONAL INCREASE IN FERTILITY? REFLECTIONS ON DEVELOPMENTS IN ESTONIA
Keywords: Fertility, Birth, Fertility trends, Estonia, Survey, Bongaarts and Feeney method, 1990-2010
AbstractOver the past decade, demographers have observed a recovery of fertility rates in most low and lowest-low fertility countries, unfortunately interrupted by the economic recession. In this article we examine trends in fertility in Estonia since the beginning of the 1990s. Estonia merits attention in the context of Eastern Europe because of its relatively strong recovery of fertility rates during the 2000s. Analysis draws on data from vital and survey statistics and employs descriptive methods. To estimate the impact of postponement on period fertility rates, the adjustment method developed by Bongaarts and Feeney is applied. The dynamics of tempo-adjusted measures challenges a popular view which contrasts low fertility characteristic of the post-socialist period with high fertility characteristic of the socialist period. In Estonia such a contrast can be observed only in the 1980s and 1990s when looking at tempo-adjusted fertility measures. With regard to cohort fertility, women born in 1970 will have an average of just over 1.85 children. In comparative perspective, strong recuperation of second (and third) births differentiates Estonia from countries exhibiting a weaker recovery of fertility rates. The authors conclude that the relatively strong recovery of fertility rates in Estonia in the 2000s is a result of a combination of factors, including family policies that reduced the opportunity costs of parenthood, economic growth that secured high levels of employment for the population and plausibly some elements of demographic path dependence.