Volume 29 - Article 6 | Pages 133–166

Patriarchy and fertility in Albania

By Mathias Lerch

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Date received:09 May 2012
Date published:26 Jul 2013
Word count:9343
Keywords:Albania, fertility, multilevel analysis, patriarchy, postcommunist crisis, social institutions


Background: Theories of fertility collapse in the post-socialist era imply a decline in the moral primacy of traditional social institutions. Yet gender inequality actually increased in many countries, and there is a scarcity of empirical evidence for the role played by traditional social institutions in reproductive decision-making.

Objective: We investigate whether patriarchal institutions sustained the fertility levels in Albania. The geography of marriage and family enlargement is related to the importance of patriarchy in kinship organisation and in the public sphere. To account for this spatial relationship we test the evidence for different pathways in patriarchal influence on reproductive decision-making including social effects, socialisation in patriarchal ideals, and the promotion of male fertility.

Methods: We reconstruct reproductive histories from the 2001 Census and use data on attitudes and fertility intentions from the Reproductive and Health Survey 2002. Multilevel logistic regressions on marriage and (the intention of) higher order births are used.

Results: A majority of women endorsed patriarchal ideals and fertility transition was less advanced in more patriarchal municipalities. Patriarchal kinship organisation promoted early marriages and high fertility, which is shown to be achieved by social learning among peers and intergenerational social influences respectively, as well as by women's socialisation and a stopping behaviour in childbearing dominated by son-preference. Although gender inequality in the public sphere has also sustained the level of fertility and decreased the risk of marriage, it was not accounted for by these pathways of patriarchal influence.

Conclusions: Despite Albania's gradual opening to the world in a period of economic and political crisis, traditional social institutions remain important for family behaviours.

Author's Affiliation

Mathias Lerch - Max-Planck-Institut für Demografische Forschung, Germany [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

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