Volume 19 - Article 8 | Pages 171–224  

Overview Chapter 6: The diverse faces of the Second Demographic Transition in Europe

By Tomáš Sobotka

This article is part of the Special Collection 7 "Childbearing Trends and Policies in Europe"

Abstract

This chapter discusses the concept of the second demographic transition (SDT) and its relevance for explaining the ongoing changes in family and fertility patterns across Europe. It takes a closer look at the shifts in values and attitudes related to family, reproduction, and children, and their representation in different chapters in this collection. It re-examines the link between the second demographic transition and fertility, highlights its strong positive association with fertility at later childbearing ages, and suggests that the transition does not necessarily lead to sub-replacement fertility levels. Subsequently, it provides an extensive discussion on the progression of the SDT behind the former ‘Iron Curtain.’ To explain some apparent contradictions in this process, it employs a conceptual model of ‘readiness, willingness, and ability’ (RWA) advocated by Lesthaeghe and Vanderhoeft (2001). It also explores the multifaceted nature of the second demographic transition between different social groups, and points out an apparent paradox: whereas lower-educated individuals often embrace values that can be characterised as rather traditional, they also frequently manifest family behaviour associated with the transition, such as non-marital childbearing, high partnership instability, and high prevalence of long-term cohabitation. This suggests that there may be two different pathways of the progression of the second demographic transition. The concluding section points out the role of structural constraints for the diffusion of the transition among disadvantaged social strata, highlights the importance of the ‘gender revolution’ for the SDT trends, and discusses the usefulness of the SDT framework.

Author's Affiliation

  • Tomáš Sobotka - Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, OeAW, University of Vienna), Austria EMAIL

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Cohort fertility decline in low fertility countries: Decomposition using parity progression ratios
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Ultra-low fertility in South Korea: The role of the tempo effect
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Czech Republic: A rapid transformation of fertility and family behaviour after the collapse of state socialism
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Austria: Persistent low fertility since the mid-1980s
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Overview Chapter 7: The rising importance of migrants for childbearing in Europe
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Overview Chapter 4: Changing family and partnership behaviour: Common trends and persistent diversity across Europe
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Overview Chapter 1: Fertility in Europe: Diverse, delayed and below replacement
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Summary and general conclusions: Childbearing Trends and Policies in Europe
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Tempo-quantum and period-cohort interplay in fertility changes in Europe: Evidence from the Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden
Volume 8 - Article 6

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