Intergenerational transmission of reproductive behaviour in 20th century Romania. A case study

Raluca Dana Caplescu, Bucharest University of Economic Studies

The evolution of fertility in 20th century Romania is profoundly marked by the persistence of traditionalist behaviours sometimes imposed by the brutal pronatalist policy that entered into force at the end of 1966. Under these circumstances, Romania constitutes a special case in the European demographic landscape and an interesting case study from the point of view of intergenerational transmission of the reproductive behaviour. For three successive generations, the population policy regime alternated from freedom of choice regarding the reproductive behaviour to constraints imposed by the state and back to freedom of choice. This raises the question whether the mechanism of intergenerational transmission has a growing influence, a decreasing one or lost its importance at all. The analysis aims at showing how the reproductive behaviour of Romanian women is influenced by their family. The general conclusion to be drawn from analysing the intergenerational transmission of reproductive behaviour for 20th century Romania is that its influence was stronger at the beginning of the century, in a policy-free context. Once the state began to interfere with ‘natural’ evolutions, the impact of the mechanism is smaller, being outweighed by the contextual factors determining fertility levels. The most dramatic effect on the reproductive behaviour of Romanian women in the 20th century, with consequences for the behaviour of the following generations, was that of the 23 years of coercive legislation imposing women an artificially high fertility. This led to significant changes not only in the behaviour of the most affected cohorts, but also to weakening the link between fertility of women and that of their mothers and to causing important shifts in perceptions, values, attitudes and even norms regarding fertility.

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Presented in Session 48: Intergenerational transmissions of fertility behaviour