Trends and specifics in the reproductive behaviour of the bulgarian population at the beginning of the 21-st century

Trends and specifics in the reproductive behaviour of the bulgarian population at the beginning of the 21-st century

Toni Traykov, Kaloyan Tsvetkov




The concept of reproductive behaviour of the population is closely linked to the process or reproduction. In a demographic sense, this is the realization of reproductive attitudes in terms of number of children desired by married couples or co-habiting partners. Several synonyms to the term “reproductive behaviour” are used in demographic, geodemographic and sociological research, such as generative, procreative and proliferative behaviour. These serve to express the processes and practical actions involved in the birth and raising of children. In a wider sense, child rearing includes also upbringing and education and even the passing on of certain attitudes toward future reproductive behaviour. Viewed in its narrower essence, reproductive behaviour has two manifestations. The first finds expression in actions ensuring the reproductive process and the second – in actions restricting and impeding this process. These actions are defined with the terms ‘birth regulation’, ‘family control’ or ‘family planning’. Changes in the social and economic situation in Bulgaria after 1989 led to changes in the reproductive behaviour of the population. The transition from centrally planned economy to market economy and the accompanying economic crisis created conditions for a rapid drop in the economic activity of the population and an increase in unemployment. The sharp decrease in actual income had a very direct impact on the reproductive behaviour of the population during this period. As a result, birth rates rapidly deteriorated, reaching an all-time low of 7.7 ‰ in 1997. The negative changes in the living standard of the population altered the reproductive attitudes of single-child families. Material difficulties experienced during raising of the first child resulted in temporary or permanent refrainment from the birth of a second child. The relative stabilization of the economic situation, which commenced in the beginning of this century resulted in the moderate improvement of some of the indicators related to reproductive behaviour. The birth rate registered at that time (9.8 ‰ in 2007) owes mainly to an increase in the fertility of the childbearing population, measured through the total fertility coefficient. In 2001 the average number of live births per woman was 1.24 and in 2007 – 1.42. Although this small increase in fertility was maintained in the course of the following decade (1.56 children in 2007), Bulgaria remains among the countries with lowest birth rate in the EU. The main issues of the current demographic situation are the increase in the median age of women at first birth, the large share of children born out of wedlock with no registered data on the father and early age at first childbirth. These negative specifics of the reproductive behaviour of the population are further exacerbated by the significant differences in birth rates between towns and villages and different regions and districts within the country.

Keywords: reproductive behaviour, family planning, market economy


Начин на цитиране / Citation

English only: 

Traykov T, Tsvetkov K (2019) Trends and specifics in the reproductive behaviour of the bulgarian population at the beginning of the 21-st century. Journal of the Bulgarian Geographical Society 41: 43–47.

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