Childbearing trends and policies in Europe: summary and general conclusions
Tomas Frejka, Independent consultant
The goals of the international comparative project published in this book were to assemble existing knowledge in fertility trends and policies in Europe, and to provide additional analyses. Almost all aspects of childbearing behaviour and values in Europe have continued to change in recent decades. Around the turn of the millennium in most countries fertility was lower than ever before, families have become smaller, unions were being formed later in life and their forms were varied and less stable. In addition, entry into parenthood was delayed, birth regulating behaviour was changing, and immigration has been modifying fertility. The involvement of governments and other public institutions was rather different from one country to another. Policy makers have increasingly been voicing concern over low fertility rates in many countries. Eight overview chapters and 19 country studies deal with different aspects of childbearing and family changes in Europe as well as with institutional responses to these changes. All countries with more than 15 million inhabitants and a number of smaller ones, together covering 86 percent of Europe’s population, are included. Somewhat more attention is devoted to recent developments in the formerly state socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, because of the relatively scant existing knowledge about childbearing in those countries.