Economic uncertainty and changing career orientation: testing alternative explanations of lowest-low fertility

Brienna Perelli, University of Michigan

The transition from a state-administered to labor market economy in post-socialist countries has brought about changes not only to economic and social structures, but to fundamental human processes such as reproduction. By examining two competing explanations of lowest-low fertility – economic uncertainty and changing career orientation among women - this study investigates how post-socialist transformations have influenced reproductive decisions in Ukraine. Using the Ukrainian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey, the first half of the paper tests for the effects of individual-level economic uncertainty on fertility behavior, including unemployment, wage arrears, and other measures of financial instability. The second half focuses on one component of “Second Demographic Transition” theory: the changing fertility behavior of career-oriented women. While economic uncertainty and changing career orientation are not incompatible - both could be occurring simultaneously, especially for different strata of the population – this paper aims to determine which argument has more explanatory power.

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Presented in Session 12: Fertility trends in Central and Eastern Europe