Gender Asymmetry in Serbia As an Unrecognised Obstacle for Increase of Fertility

Mirjana Bobic, Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade

The paper deals with decision-making while transiting from couple to parenthood in Serbia from the point of view of women/mothers. The empirical evidence has been derived from the representative survey of women in Serbia (n=1500) carried out in spring 2017 by the Institute for sociological research of Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, under the title “Reproductive strategies of women in Serbia today”.

When designing the research we relied on leading theoretical and empirical paradigms. Theory of second demographic transition highlights gender equality as an important societal precondition of fertility in postmodern settings (Leastheaghe, 2010). Contemporary socio-demographic literature underlines satisfaction with partnership to be positively related with stability of unions and (further) childbearing (Paar, 2010, etc). Life satisfaction is linked with sharing of familial tasks and responsibilities and completed gender revolution in both private and public sphere (Aassve, A., G., Fuochi, L. Mencarini, D. Mendola, 2015).

Our empirical evidence shed light on partners' common planning and preparation for childbearing and upcoming parenting. However this initial partners' equality and unity is abandoned after baby arrives home. Gender asymmetry comes into place rendering heavy burden on women's resources. Serbia has very low fertility rate (TFR 1.4) while respondents opted for three children as optimal. We turn attention to prevailing gender asymmetry as a solid basis for family friendly policy, aimed at lowering barriers to increase fertility, especially when it comes to youth who is postponing it. The fact is that policy makers in Serbia do not come to understand the importance of gender equality both at home and in public sphere (employment and career) and its links to fertility decisions. Still any policy in Serbia today will fail unless quality of life of citizens is not prioritised, whereas family planning needs to be founded on diversity and free will.

Presented in Session 90: Gender Roles and Attitudes over the Life Course