Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Contested Parenthood: Attitudes Toward Voluntary Childlessness as a Life Strategy in Post‐Socialist Bulgaria

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Abstract:  The article focuses on the social differences in the attitudes toward female and male voluntary childlessness in Bulgaria and their dynamics over time. The analysis is based on data from the European Social Survey conducted in 2006 and 2018 in Bulgaria. By the means of multinomial logistic regression, we test the effect of the period, gender, age, marital status, number of children, education, employment, minority status, and religiosity on attitudes toward childlessness. The results reveal a decrease in negative attitudes and a strong increase of neutral stances. However, higher age of respondents is still associated with an increase in negative attitudes toward voluntary childlessness rather than neutrality. Women are significantly more likely to accept voluntary childlessness than to be neutral compared to men. Respondents who are married, parents, lowly educated, jobless or economically inactive, people belonging to ethnic minority groups, and highly religious people are more likely to disapprove of voluntary childlessness. Perceptions on female or male voluntary childlessness are significantly correlated with attitudes toward extramarital fertility, cohabitation, divorces when children are under twelve years old, and full‐time female employment when children are below the age of three. The analysis of variance reveals that the individuals who accept or are neutral to voluntary childlessness have stronger non‐conformist attitudes emphasizing self‐expression, the idea of “having a good time,” and rejection of traditional authorities compared to the respondents with negative attitudes.

Keywords:  Bulgaria; European Social Survey; family values; non‐conformist value orientations; parenthood; social differences; voluntary childlessness


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© Elitsa Dimitrova, Tatyana Kotzeva. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.