Fertility Trends in Serbia during the 1990s
The 1990s represent an exceptionally complex period for the population of Serbia. In addition to the impact of long‑term factors, various tumultuous events affected its demographic development, such as breaking apart of former Yugoslavia, armed conflicts in the neighboring countries, sanctions imposed by the international community, social changes (transition, transformation or regression), deep economic crisis, collapse of social stratification, political problems, institutional crisis, and NATO military intervention. Maladaptation to the changed system of values and norms, lower level of personal attainment, feeling of insecurity, and living under permanent stress are the main features of life at an individual, psychological level. Deprivation or living at the subsistence level are the main elements of the economic cost sustained by the majority of the population.
How have these changes affected an individual's decision to have children? The analysis of futility indicators points to an obvious decline in the number of births across low fertility regions of Serbia. Also, the analysis has raised the question why the decline in population fertility in the low fertility regions was not even higher, bearing in mind the experiences undergone by the countries with economy in transition as well as the depth of the crisis in society. In that sense several factors come to mind. The most important are the universality of marriage, socio-psychological investigations confirmed domination of the traditional character or mentality in Serbia during the 1990s, and the government’s approach to the issue of fertility improved during this time. Besides, demographic needs were carefully taken into account in all amendments to the old and formulation of the new measures in the area of social policy. Mention should be made of measures ensuring employment rights of women and their entitlement to maternity leave, maternity pay, and provision of institutionalized care for the children. On the other hand, under‑reporting of live births, lack of knowledge on the size and characteristics of emigration flows limited the analysis of population fertility in Kosovo and Metohia. But, registered data as well as survey results show to the perseverance of the fertility model of transitional type displaying obvious traditional elements.
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