And the poor Gypsies get children - The use of ethnography in demography

Judit Durst, Corvinus University, Budapest

Whilst the fertility rate of the hungarian population has been steadily dropping in the last few decades, since the Transformation we have noticed a considerable increase in the number of live births amongst some socially marginalised and segregated, rural Gypsy communities. As such, some sociologists have already started to speak about the deepening demographic gap between the Gypsy „underclass“ and the rest of society. According to their underclass thesis, social exclusion in itself can explain high fertility. This paper attempts to explore some of the reasons for the increasing reproduction of poor rural Gypsy women. Having benefited from several years of fieldwork in two small „Gypsyfied“ villages in the economically straitened Northern part of Hungary and using a mix-method research strategy, we argue that social status in itself can not explain fertility behaviour. This paper highlights the importance of the impact of social networks on demographic outcomes.

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