Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN13_07a: Family planning and fertility I
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Baptiste Coulmont, Université Paris 8
Session Chair: Vaida Tretjakova, Lithuanian Social Research Centre
Location: UP.2.218
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Second Floor Oxford Road

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Postponing Children: Social Practices and Ethics of Reproduction

Lynn Jamieson, Adele Lebano

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

This paper explores the value of applying social practice theory to the study of fertility and considers whether the threat of climate change is refashioning an ecological ethics of reproduction. It draws on an interview study of women and men aged 30-35 recruited from cities in two low-fertility nations (Italy, Spain) and one less so (UK). Research participants have contrasting configurations of educational qualifications and employment security. A social practice theory approach adds another dimension to current explanations of low fertility. These include a focus on postponement in having a first child as a consequence of the particular difficulties for women of combining work and family life that are most acute in national contexts that continue to support traditional gender regimes rather than work to mitigate or remove the ‘double burden’. The idea of different contexts providing different levels of support for the elements that enable postponement as a social practice is explored. Discussion includes reflection on the limited extent to which research participants have a sense of their children’s future as blighted by climate change and how this impacts on their own ethics of reproduction.

Childbearing Postponement And Increasing Use Of Assisted Reproduction

Jirina Kocourkova, Anna Stastna, Ludek Sidlo, Boris Burcin

Charles University, Czech Republic

Postponement of childbearing makes up one of the main reasons for the increasing use of assisted reproduction (ART) which, conversely, may well be one of the factors contributing to the increase in the female childbearing age. ART use widely varies among European countries. The Czech Republic belongs to the countries with relatively high proportion of children born following ART (3.5%). The first aim is to estimate the impact of ART on past and future fertility trends in the Czech Republic. Available data from the National Register of Assisted Reproduction showed that the importance of ART increased simultaneously with an increase in the TFR until 2009. According to forecast, an increase in the percentage of ART live births by 2050 can reach up to 12.2 % assuming an increasing percentage of smoothed and adjusted values of ART fertility rates and low variant of fertility development. The second aim is to estimate the economic cost of childbearing postponement with respect to the health care system. The Czech Republic has been facing increasing costs in the health care system due to the increasing number of women giving birth at older ages. We will specify all the costs using data from the largest Czech health insurance company. When the age-specific cost are calculated the public funding of live births following ART and naturally conceived will be compared.

One-child Families in the Context of the Two-child Family Norm

Radka Dudova1, Hana Haskova2, Kristyna Pospisilova3, Jana Klimova Chaloupkova4

1Czech Academy od Sciences, Czech Republic; 2Czech Academy od Sciences, Czech Republic; 3Czech Academy od Sciences, Czech Republic; 4Czech Academy od Sciences, Czech Republic

Despite prevailing ideal of two-child family across Europe, many countries experience an increase in one-child families alongside the permanently childless. While there are studies on childlessness, one-child families have obtained less attention. Especially in countries where the norm to have a child remains strong, increase in one-child families is more profound. Taking the example of one of such countries, Czechia, we explore one-child families using mixed-methods research approach. Using Census data from 2011 and survey data containing partnership and employment trajectories we explore timing of first birth and characteristics of one-child families. Qualitative analysis of problem-centred interviews with parents of single child who planned to have more children aims at exploring their understanding of processes leading them to having one child. It depicts one-child family as a consequence of events and transitions and their timing in the linked life paths of both partners, and shows that normative ideals of parenthood and parenting as well as work-life balance issues contribute to changes in the intended family size to one child. Findings suggest the importance of external conditions, internalized norms and sequential childbearing decision-making for understanding the increase of one-child families.

The Reasons of Remaining Childless in the Narratives of Women

Gražina Rapolienė, Margarita Gedvilaitė – Kordušienė

Lithuanian Social Research Centre, Lithuania

Modernization is seen in emphasis of individualization, individual choice, career orientations among women (Beck, Beck-Gernsheim, 2002; Giddens, 1991), as contraception allows controlling reproduction. But research points that cumulative contingencies (over time) and path dependencies (across domains as marriage and occupation) may lead to childlessness without explicit choice (Keizer, 2010; DeOllos, Kapinus, 2002). Based on semi-structured interviews with childless women aged 50-71 (N=21) collected in 2018 in Lithuania (scientific project Childlessness in Lithuania: socio‐cultural changes and individual experiences in modern society, Lithuanian Research Council, contract No. S-MOD-17-3), the paper focuses on subjective reasons of final childlessness. As forms of childlessness conceptually often are defined as voluntary, physiological or determined by life course, in accordance to other research (Miettinen et al, 2015; Gray et al, 2013) our data suggests that the distinction is rather complicated. Among life course events, not finding a suitable partner predominates. For these women the possibility of becoming pregnant without long-term partner is unthinkable, and some of narratives illustrate lack of agency, stressing on fate or God‘s will. Some other interviews reveal complexity of life course events interwined with other factors, such as out of marriage relationships, growing in one-parents‘ family, negative effects of upringing, psychological factors, inheritable illnessess. For some women fertility was less important than other life choices. The cases combining physiological and life course reasons (such as late marriage and partner‘s infertility), reveal gendered nature of fertility behaviour: women-blaming discourse, passive men‘s role during infertility treatment, thus revealing influence of social environment on individual behavior.

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