Childbirth drops in former communist countries

Women in former Communist countries postponed or decided against having children following economic and political liberation. Experts believe they may have done so either because of the uncertainties of the future or to take advantage of their new economic opportunities.

According to a new United Nations report:

  • A sharp drop in the fertility rate in Eastern and Central Europe following the collapse of Communism in 1989 could reduce the region's population nearly 20 percent by 2050.

  • That would mean the population of some 307 million could fall to about 250 million.

  • As of 1997, the average fertility rate in economies which were in transition from communism to more liberal government had fallen by one-third from 1988 levels.

  • Since Western Europe is facing its own fall in fertility rates, the answer may be more immigration from Eastern and Central Europe - which could create new political problems in the West, while further diminishing the skilled work force in the East.

    Demographers predict that as economies stabilise, the generation of women born in the early 1970s is not likely to postpone motherhood forever. But rather than having several children, many will have only one. Fertility will never again reach pre-1989 levels, they forecast.

    Source: NCPA Policy Digest/Steven Erlanger, "Birthrate Dips in Ex-Communist Countries," New York Times, May 4, 2000.

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    Improved economic conditions have reduced population growth rates worldwide. The answer to perceived excessive population increases is therefore improved economic growth and not interference in people’s lives. Demographers predict population explosions and population decimation by AIDS in the same countries at the same times. They obviously need to firm up their assumptions – which is it to be?

    Eustace Davie, FMF
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