The Path to Lowest-low Fertility in Ukraine
The phenomenon of lowest-low fertility, defined as total fertility below 1.3, is now emerging throughout Europe and is attributed by many to postponement of the initiation of childbearing. Here an investigation of the case of Ukraine, where total fertility--1.1 in 2001--is one of the world’s lowest, shows that there is more than one pathway to lowest-low fertility. Although Ukraine has undergone immense political and economic transformations in the past decade, it has maintained a young age at first birth and nearly universal childbearing. Analyses of official national statistics and the Ukrainian Reproductive Health Survey show that fertility declined to very low levels without a transition to a later pattern of childbearing. Findings from focus-group interviews are used to suggest explanations of the early fertility pattern. These include the persistence of traditional norms for childbearing and the roles of men and women, concerns about medical complications and infertility at a later age, and the link between early fertility and early marriage.