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Document Type
Working Papers
Publication Topic(s)
Fertility and Fertility Preferences, Wealth/Socioeconomics
Sunnee Billingsley and Macro International Inc. Calverton, Maryland, USA
Publication Date
August 2008
Publication ID

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In the context of a fertility decline across the countries of the former Eastern bloc, this paper analyzes the fertility decline in Armenia and Moldova using 2005 Demographic Health Surveys (DHS) data. Easterlin’s (1976) hypothesis about the negative impact on fertility of reducing living standards is contrasted with Becker’s (1981) theory of opportunity costs. If Easterlin’s hypothesis is true, we would expect to see women with lower resources suppress fertility because of the hardships brought on by the economic transition, especially for those with fewer marketable skills. Conversely, if Becker’s theory is correct, opportunity costs would lead women with the highest earning potential to suppress their fertility. Specifically, the extent of parity declines is analyzed during the transition from Communism, with special attention given to identifying women for whom parity declines are greater. The conditions under which women currently want children are also analyzed to determine if a relationship exists between economic conditions and the desire for another child or the desired timing of childbirth. Since 1986, parity progression ratios have declined more for women with vocational education than for women with higher education or secondary education only. Logistic analyses of current fertility preferences suggest that women who are employed are more likely to want a second birth in both countries, whereas the wealthiest women in Armenia have higher odds of wanting a third birth. Armenian women have higher odds of wanting to postpone the next birth if their partners are unemployed, whereas Moldovan women who are employed prefer to postpone their next childbirth.