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


  • Christoph Bühler

    (Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Bühler, 2008. "On the structural value of children and its implication on intended fertility in Bulgaria," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 18(20), pages 569-610, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:18:y:2008:i:20

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kohler, Hans-Peter, 2001. "Fertility and Social Interaction: An Economic Perspective," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199244591.
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    6. Hans-Peter Kohler & Jere R. Behrman & Susan Cotts Watkins, 1999. "The structure of social networks and fertility decisions: evidence from S. Nyanza District, Kenya," MPIDR Working Papers WP-1999-005, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    7. Francine Pickup & Anne White, 2003. "Livelihoods in Postcommunist Russia," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 17(3), pages 419-434, September.
    8. Rodolfo Bulatao, 1981. "Values and disvalues of children in successive childbearing decisions," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(1), pages 1-25, February.
    9. Lokshin, Michael M. & Yemtsov, Ruslan, 2001. "Household strategies for coping with poverty and social exclusion in post-crisis Russia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2556, The World Bank.
    10. Warren Miller, 1986. "Proception: An important fertility behavior," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 23(4), pages 579-594, November.
    11. Christoph Bühler & Dimiter Philipov, 2005. "Social Capital Related to Fertility: Theoretical Foundations and Empirical Evidence from Bulgaria," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 3(1), pages 53-81.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ina Berninger & Bernd Weiß & Michael Wagner, 2011. "On the links between employment, partnership quality, and the desire to have a first child," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 24(24), pages 579-610, April.
    2. Øystein Kravdal, 2010. "Demographers’ interest in fertility trends and determinants in developed countries: Is it warranted?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 22(22), pages 663-690, April.

    More about this item


    Bulgaria; costs and benefits; decision-making; fertility; fertility intentions; interpersonal exchange; social capital; social networks; value of children;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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