Transition to Parenthood: New Insights Into Socio-Psychological Costs of Childbearing

  • Mirjana Bobić Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Belgrade (Serbia)
Keywords: socio-psychological costs of childbearing, partnership, transformation of gender roles, Serbia, family policy


The paper deals with socio-psychological costs of (first) childbearing, considering this as important hurdle for transition to higher parities, especially to second and third ones. In addition to the second demographic transition, new paradigms tackle micro aspects of parenthood thus highlighting individual and parental well-being/happiness and experiences around a first baby as preconditions for (next) childbearing along with work-, family-, leisure-, friendly policies. We used both the macro and micro theoretical perspectives in order to explore our research data. We deployed the complementary method: the survey (N=1560) among women in Serbia in 2017 which was the supplementary to previously conducted qualitative one (interviews with 30 couples in Belgrade) in 2013/4. On both occasions we dealt with the topic related to the process of transition from partnership to parenthood. Results have shown high socio-psychological costs of women/mothers and the asymmetry in gender roles at the start of childbearing. This is explained by persisting patriarchal ideology in both private and public sphere, which is even strengthened after the onset of social transition and demise of state socialism (repatriarchalization). Such behavioural pattern is not only incompatible with professional demands when it comes to women’s employment, but as such is also demonstrated to be a strong barrier for further childbearing. We propose policy measures that are directed towards stronger inclusion of men/fathers into private sphere (transformation of gender roles) from the very beginning of parenthood and around household, which should be combined with other family policies (work family reconciliation), social policies targeted to the increased employment, quality of life, etc.


Download data is not yet available.


AASVE, A., ARPINO, A., & BILBO, N. (2016). It Takes Two to Tango. Couples’ Happiness and Childbearing. European Journal of Population 32(3): 339‒354.

BLAGOJEVIĆ, M. (1997). Roditeljstvo i fertilitet, Srbija devedesetih. Beograd: ISI FF i Čigoja štampa.

BLAGOJEVIĆ HUGHSON, M. (2013). Rodni barometar u Srbiji. Beograd: UNWOMEN.

BLAGOJEVIĆ HUGHSON, M. (2014). Transformation of Parenthood: The Semiperipheral Perspective. Sociologija 56(4): 383‒402.

BOBIĆ, M. (2012). Rodna (ne)ravnopravnost. Reprodukcija patrijarhata na lokalnom nivou. U M. Petrović (ur.), Glokalnost transformacijskih promena u Srbiji (str. 203‒227). Beograd: ISI FF i Čigoja Štampa.

BOBIĆ, M. (2017). Od partnerstva ka roditeljstvu: Od uzajamnosti do odvojenosti. Limes Plus 14(2): 107‒133.

BOBIĆ, M., & LAZIĆ, S. (2015). Prakse u svakodnevnom životu parova na početku roditeljstva. U I. Jarić (ur.), Politike roditeljstva: Iskustva, diskursi i institucionalne prakse. Beograd: Filozofski fakultet Univerziteta u Beogradu.

BOBIĆ, M., & STANOJEVIĆ, M. (2014a). Transition from marriage into parenthood: discourses and practice-dyadic perspective. Sociologija 56(4): 427‒444.

BOBIĆ, M., & STANOJEVIĆ, M. (2014b) The process of family transformation and couple’s self reflection ‒ dyadic perspective. Sociologija 56(4): 445‒457.

BOBIĆ, M., & VESKOVIĆ-ANĐELKOVIĆ, M. (2017). To Stay or to Leave? On Emigration of Youth from Serbia. In M. Bobić & S. Janković (eds.), Towards Understanding of Contemporary Migration. Causes, Consequences, Policies, Reflections. Belgrade: ISI FF and Serbian Sociological Society.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE (2009). Family Policy in Council of Europe Member States. Council of Europe.

DAVAKI, K. (2016). Demography and family policies from a gender perspective. Study for the femm committee. Brussels: European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies.

ĐURĐEV, B. (2004). Koliko dece treba Srbiji? Stanovništvo 42(1-4): 29‒44.

EPRC (2014). Maternity and Paternity Leave in the EU. At a Glance. Infographic ‒ December 2016. Brussels: European Parliament.

EC (2006). The Demographic Future of Europe. From Challenge to Opportunity. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

EVERTSSON, M., BOYE, K., & ERMAN, J. (2018). Fathers on call? A study on the sharing of care work between parents in Sweden. Demographic Research 39: 33‒60.

FREJKA, T. (2008). Overview Chapter 2: Parity distribution and completed family size in Europe: Incipient decline of the two-child family model? Demographic Research 19: 47‒72.

FREJKA, T., & GIETEL-BASTEN, S. (2016). Fertility and Family Policies in Central and Eastern Europe after 1990. Comparative Population Studies 41(1): 3‒56.

GOLDSCHEIDER, F., BERNHARDT, E., & LAPPEGÅRD, T. (2015). The Gender Revolution: A Framework for Understanding Changing Family and Demographic Behavior. Population and Development Review 41(2): 207‒239.

HÖHN, CH., AVRAMOV, D., & KOTOWSKA, I. (eds.) (2008). People, Population Change and Policies. Lessons from the Population Policy Acceptance Study Vol. 1: Family Change. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

HUGHSON, M. (2017). Muškarci u Srbiji. Druga strana rodne neravnopravnosti. Beograd: Institut za kriminološka i sociološka istraživanja.

KOHLER, H. P., & MENCARINI, L. (2016). The Parenthood Happiness Puzzle. An Introduction to Special Issue. European Journal of Population 32(3): 327‒338.

LAPPEGÅRD, T., GOLDSCHEIDER, F., & BERNHARDT, E. (2017). Introduction to the Special Collection on Finding Work-Life Balance: History, Determinants and Consequences of New Breadwinning Models in Industrialized World, editorial. Demographic Research 37: 853‒866.

LESTHAEGHE, R. (2010). The Unfolding story of the Second Demographic Transition. Population and Development Review 36(2): 211‒251.

LUTZ, W., SKIRBEKK, V., & TESTA, M. R. (2006). The Low Fertility Trap Hypothesis: Forces that May Lead to Further Postponement and Fewer Births in Europe. Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 4: 167-192.

MARGOLIS, R., & MYRSKYLÄ, M. (2011). A Global Perspective on Happiness and Fertility. Population and Development Review 37(1): 29‒56.

MARGOLIS, R., & MYRSKYLÄ, M. (2015). Parental Well-Being Surrounding First Birth as a Determinant of Further Parity Progression. Demography 52(4): 1147‒1166.

McDONALD, P. (2002). Sustaining fertility through public policy: The range of options. Population-E 57(3): 417‒446.

MENCARINI, L., & TANTURRI, M. L. (2006). High Fertility or Childlessness: Micro-Level Determinants of Reproductive Behaviour in Italy. Population 61(4): 389‒415. DOI: 10.3917/popu.604.0463

MILIĆ, A. (ur.) (2010). Vreme porodica. Sociološka studija o porodičnoj transformaciji u savremenoj Srbiji. Beograd: Filozofski fakultet Univerzitet u Beogradu, Čigoja štampa.

MILLS, M., BEGALL, K., MENCARINI, L., & TANTURRI, M. L. (2008). Gender equity and fertility intentions in Italy and the Netherlands. Demographic Research 18: 1‒26.

MYRSKYLÄ, M., & MARGOLIS, R. (2014). Happiness: Before and After the Kids. Demography 51(5): 1843‒866.

NEWMAN, L. (2008). How parenthood experiences influence desire for more children in Australia: A qualitative study. Journal of Population Research 25(1): 1‒27.

NIKITOVIĆ, V. (ur.) (2015). Populacija Srbije početkom 21. veka. Beograd: Republički zavod za statistiku.

PARR, N. (2010). Satisfaction with life as an antecedent of fertility: Partner + Happiness = Children? Demographic Research 22: 635‒662.

RAŠEVIĆ, M. (2015). Fertilitet ženskog stanovništva. U V. Nikitović (ur.), Populacija Srbije početkom 21. veka (str. 74‒98). Beograd: Republički zavod za statistiku.

RUPPANNER, L., BERNHARDT, E., & BRANDÉN, M. (2017). Division of housework and his and her view of housework fairness: A typology of Swedish couples. Demographic Research 36: 501‒524.

RZS (2016). Demographic Yearbook 2015. Belgrade: Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia.

SEKULIĆ, N. M., JARIĆ, I., & RADONJIĆ, O. (2017). U senci javnih politika. Rodne politike i rodno iskustvo. Predgovor. Limes Plus (tematski broj) 14(2): 5‒11.

STANKOVIĆ, B. (2015). Bračnost stanovništva. U V. Nikitović (ur.), Populacija Srbije početkom 21.veka (str. 194‒222). Beograd: Republički zavod za statistiku.

STANKUNIENE, V., & MASLAUSKAITE, A. (2008). Family Transformations in the Post-Communist Countries: Attitudes Toward Changes. In Ch. Höhn, D. Avramov & I. E. Kotowska (eds.), People, Population Change and Policies (pp. 113-138). Dordrecht: Springer.

STANOJEVIĆ, D. (2015). Oblikovanje novog očinstva kroz prakse očeva u Srbiji (doktorska disertacija). Beograd: Filozofski fakultet Univerziteta u Beogradu.

TOMANOVIĆ, S., STANOJEVIĆ, D., & LJUBIČIĆ, M. (2016). Postajanje roditeljem u Srbiji. Sociološko istraživanje tranzicije u roditeljstvo. Beograd: Filozofski fakultet Univerziteta u Beogradu.

UN (2017). World Population Prospects – The 2017 Revision. Key Findings and advance tables. New York: United Nations – Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.

VOBECKÁ, J., BUTZ, W. P., & REYES, G. C. (2013). Population Trends and Policies in UNECE Region: Outcomes, Policies and Possibilities. Laxenburg, New York: IIASA and UNFPA.

ZEMAN, K., BEAUJOUAN, E., BRZOZOWSKA, Z., & SOBOTKA, T. (2018). Cohort fertility decline in low fertility countries: Decomposition using parity progression ratios. Demographic Research 38: 651‒690.

How to Cite
Bobić, M. (2018). Transition to Parenthood: New Insights Into Socio-Psychological Costs of Childbearing. Stanovništvo, 56(1), 1-25.