Family change and development idealism: results from 2005 Albania survey of individual data about ideas, perceptions and attitudes

Arjan Gjonca, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Arland Thornton, University of Michigan

This paper examines the ways in which development and developmental thinking are related to fertility and marriage change in Albania. The past 50 years have seen radical transformations in many aspects of Albanian society. While the TFR came down dramatically from 7.0 (1960) to 1.85 (2005) births per woman, marriage patterns have not changed much. Marriage continues to be universal. 92% of women married by age of 35. MAFM of women changed from 22 to 23 years from 1950 to 2000. The same applies for men, with a change from 27.7 to 28.1 years. Most importantly childbearing still occurs within marriage, with out-of-wedlock fertility being at 0.03% (2002). While education seems to be the main factor in bringing fertility down, the norms that maintained fertility within marriage seem to persist in determining the family structures. This interplay between new and old norms and the fact that Albania was for decades sealed off from the West, make it a unique site for studying the effects of development ideas on family formation and fertility patterns. This paper uses recently collected data on fertility, family formation, values and attitudes, development thinking and beliefs to address this issue. The initial results show clearly that Albanias have considerable knowledge of development and see a strong association between socio-economic development and family formation. They also perceive development as influential in determining the future pattern of their fertility and marriage behaviour. In addition, Albanians see low fertility but not an older age at marriage as being an important causal force in producing economic growth. We hypothesize that the beliefs about low fertility being a causal influence on economic growth could help explain the decline in fertility, while the lack of belief in a high age at marriage being a factor in economic growth could help explain the relative stability in age at marriage.

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Presented in Session 71: Fertility Shifts in Central and Eastern Europe