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Starting a Family at Your Parent's House: Multigenerational Households and Below Replacement Fertility in urban Bulgaria
Journal of Comparative Family Studies
In societies with strong multigenerational links, economic uncertainty results in choosing to stay with one child, sometimes in association with postponement of first births (i.e. Italy) and sometimes in early childbearing (i.e. Bulgaria). The interaction between intergenerational family practices in lowest-low fertility contexts is likely to play a role on differences timing to parenthood. In this paper, we focus on the phenomenon of women who have one child in their early twenties in Bulgaria and do not intend to have a second child. We argue that the key to this process is the persistence of extended multigenerational households in the Bulgarian context and their effect on young couples' fertility decision making. We use semi-structured interview data from the project Fertility Choices in Central and Eastern Europe and ethnographic fieldnotes. The interviews were collected from a sample of 22 couples resident in Sofia and representing different permutations of educational level, marital status and number of children (0 or 1). The four-year ethnographic fieldwork was conducted in both rural and urban Bulgaria between 1997 and 2009. Results suggest that as long as the economic situation remains dire, and young Bulgarians hopes for the future remain cynical, multigenerational households represent the accepted practice of entering into parenthood for young families.
Multigenerational households, Bulgaria, generation, coresidence, family formation
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