Addressing the Depopulation Challenge from the Family Life Perspective – Is Fertility Rise Possible?

Dragan Stanojević

For decades now, the goal of population policy in Serbia has been to increase fertility. This goal can be pursued by striving to become more “family-friendly” as a society and helping parents reconcile work and parenthood in four domains: the labour market, state support for parenthood, marital and family relationships, and the position of women in society, that is, new gender roles. In all these dimensions, Serbian society is partially “unfriendly” to young families and parents. Youth unemployment rates are high and working conditions are poor and do not allow them to balance work and parenting responsibilities. Preschool institutions are developing, but not fast enough and mostly in cities, while unemployed parents find it harder to enrol their children and get the opportunity to work. As a rule, fathers do not use parental leave, while women carry a greater burden of caring for the family and children. Attitudes about gender roles are still dominantly traditional, especially among less educated men, although they are gradually changing, particularly among educated residents. This chapter elaborates on how public policy should be aimed at supporting parents to reconcile their family and work roles and to build the type of marital and family relationships that best suits them.