Attitudes, Norms and Perceived Behavioural Control: Explaining Fertility Intentions in Bulgaria

  • Francesco C. Billari
  • Dimiter Philipov
  • Maria Rita Testa


In this article, we study fertility decision-making through timing parity-progression intentions. The theoretical framework builds on Ajzen’s social-psychological “Theory of Planned Behavior”: intentions are seen as directly dependent on three components: attitudes, norms and perceived behavioural control. We study the case of Bulgaria, a “lowest-low” fertility country. In 2002, a sample survey containing a specially designed module was conducted. This module included an implementation of our framework, with a special attention to the links between normative pressure and the social network of respondents. Results show that the three components are broadly predictive of fertility intentions. More specifically, attitudes are more relevant than norms for higher parities. Socio-economic, ideational, psychological and social capital-based factors are relevant background determinants.


Fertility intentions Theory of planned behavior Bulgaria Lowest-low fertility Norms 

Attitudes, normes et contrôle perçu du comportement: Une explication des intentions de fécondité en Bulgarie


Dans cet article, nous étudions les décisions en matière de fécondité à l’aide des intentions d’agrandissement avec référence temporelle. Le cadre conceptuel est celui de la théorie psychosociologique du comportement prévu d’Ajzen, selon laquelle les intentions dépendent de façon directe de trois éléments : les attitudes, les normes et le contrôle perçu du comportement. L’étude concerne la Bulgarie, un pays dont la fécondité est des plus basses. En 2002, une enquête par sondage comportant un module de questions construit à cette fin a été menée. Ce module comprenait les éléments pour mettre en œuvre notre cadre conceptuel, en accordant une attention particulière aux liens entre la pression normative et le réseau social des enquêtés. Les résultats montrent que les trois éléments de la théorie sont des facteurs de prédiction des intentions de fécondité. Plus spécifiquement, les attitudes sont plus pertinentes que les normes pour le passage au deuxième enfant. Les facteurs socio-économiques, idéationnels, psychologiques et ceux basés sur le capital social sont pertinents comme déterminants de contexte.


Intentions de fécondité Théorie du comportement prévu Bulgarie Très basses fécondités Normes 



The preparation of this manuscript benefited from a grant by the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities to the project ‘Fertility Intentions and Outcomes: The Role of Policies to Close the Gap’ (contract no. VS/2006/0685). Data collection was originally financed by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany. The authors would like to thank two anonymous referees of the European Journal of Population for important suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco C. Billari
    • 1
  • Dimiter Philipov
    • 2
  • Maria Rita Testa
    • 2
  1. 1.Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, Department of Decision Sciences and IGIERUniversità BocconiMilanItaly
  2. 2.Vienna Institute of DemographyAustrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria

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