Volume 18 - Article 20 | Pages 569-610

On the structural value of children and its implication on intended fertility in Bulgaria

By Christoph Bühler

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Date received:17 Feb 2006
Date published:24 Jun 2008
Word count:9036
Keywords:Bulgaria, costs and benefits, decision-making, fertility, fertility intentions, interpersonal exchange, social capital, social networks, value of children
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2008.18.20
 

Abstract

Personal networks are receiving increasing recognition as structural determinants of fertility. However, the network perspective also helps to explain personal motivations for having children. Using theories of interpersonal exchange, social capital, and the value of children, it is argued in this article that children can substantively improve their parents’ social networks. Individuals perceive this potential advantageous development as a structural benefit and consider this value in their reproductive decisions. This argument is empirically explored with data from Bulgaria, collected in 2002. The results document the presence of structural evaluations among subjectively perceived child-related benefits. Moreover, structural evaluations matter for the reproductive decision-making of Bulgarian citizens. Women’s fertility intentions are supported by the prospect that a child will bring their parents and relatives closer or will improve their security at old age. Males’ intentions are closely associated with the expectation that a child will provide support when they are old.

Author's Affiliation

Christoph Bühler - Leibniz Universitaet Hannover, Germany [Email]

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