Barren States: The Population Implosion in Europe

Overview

The fertility rate has dramatically declined across Europe in recent years. Globally, over sixty-four countries have fallen below generation replacement levels and countries in eastern and southern Europe are registering the lowest birth rates in the history of humanity. Demographers emphasize that these developments could have serious repercussions for society and public policy - from a projected drastic loss of national population numbers to labor shortages and a swelling ...
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Overview

The fertility rate has dramatically declined across Europe in recent years. Globally, over sixty-four countries have fallen below generation replacement levels and countries in eastern and southern Europe are registering the lowest birth rates in the history of humanity. Demographers emphasize that these developments could have serious repercussions for society and public policy - from a projected drastic loss of national population numbers to labor shortages and a swelling population of over-65s.

Typically, analysts have approached the issue of low fertility quantitatively and from state levels. As a result, most research tends to gloss over any nuanced understanding of this significant trend. Filling a major gap, this timely book goes well beyond existing studies to investigate how people experience, understand and speak about what is called "low fertility." On the individual level, is there such a thing? How do people understand their choices and the perceived limitations on their lives? What is the meaning of motherhood for women today? How has the definition of "family" changed? What are the particularities of fertility decline in each country? And, perhaps most importantly, what does this tendency toward fewer births mean to the women and men who ultimately become demographic statistics?

Offering new readings and a much deeper understanding of Europe's decline in fertility, this exciting book adds the voices of everyday people to previous state-centered studies. Overturning a number of assumptions, case studies show that having fewer children is often understood positively in Europe as a means to freedom and self-empowerment. Anyone wishing to understand what low fertility means to the people who live it will find this book essential reading.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781845200497
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 4/2/2005
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Carrie B. Douglass is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Spanish, Mary Baldwin College.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 A matter of free choice? : some structural and cultural influences on the decision to have or not to have children in Norway 29
3 "Now it is completely the other way around" : political economics of fertility in re-unified Germany 49
4 "Our nation is dying" : interpreting patterns of childbearing in post-Soviet Russia 73
5 The economy of birthrates in the Czech Republic 93
6 A quest for belonging : the Bulgarian demographic crisis, emigration and the postsocialist generations 115
7 Underfertility's challenge to family and gender relations in urban Greece 137
8 "Toys and perfumes" : imploding Italy's population paradox and motherly myths 159
9 "We're fine at home" : young people, family and low fertility in Spain 183
10 Making family : depopulation and social crisis in France 207
11 Bodies coming and going : women and fertility in postmodern Ireland 229
12 A reflection on barren states : the demographic paradoxes of consumer capitalism 249
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