4 minute read

Slovakia

Changes In The Family

Following World War II, changes in the family included changes in the size of the family, relations between individual family members, division of labor, and the economic activity of family members and their family roles, as well as to intergenerational coexistence.

Changes in the reproductive behavior in Slovakian families started long before the World War II. A large percentage of the population adopted the ideal of the still-dominant two-children family model. Families with two children made up 18.6 percent of all families in 1961, and increased to 26.7 percent by 1991. Families with more than three children have been in decline (15.4% in 1961, 11.5% in 1991) whereas families with only one child have been increasing in number. Between 1980 and 1991 the share of childless households increased from 36.7 per cent to 39.6 percent. Concomitantly, belief in the importance of children in a family for a marriage to be considered a fulfilled and happy one declined. In 1992, 88.2 percent of respondents indicated that children were an important condition for a happy marriage, whereas in 1999 only 68.8 percent expressed the same opinion (European Values Study 1999/2000).

Agriculture was the main source of subsistence for the largest portion of the Slovak population until halfway through the twentieth century. The division of duties between spouses and their responsibilities to the children were determined by their primary economic activity. "The father is the real head of the family and enjoys the authority of master and ruler of the house. . . . The wife of the household was not only the mother, cook, and guardian of cleanliness, but also coworker on the field, in the shed and in the yard. ... Children from an early age were involved in household chores and farm work according to their age" (Stefanek 1944, p. 76).

Extensive industrialization started in Slovakia after World War II. Collectivization and the mechanization of agriculture resulted in an exodus of the work force from agriculture. Young men were the first to leave agriculture, later followed by the women. Men found new jobs in industry and TABLE 1

TABLE 1
Children born out of wedlock in Slovakia
  Children born out wedlock By order (in %)
    per 1000 % of      
Year Total population total births 1st 2nd 3rd +
SOURCE: Stav a pohyb obyvatel'stva v SR v rokoch 1950-2000. Bratislava, ŠÚ SR.
1950 5,538 1.60 5.4 57.6 18.3 24.1
1955 4,738 1.26 4.7 59.8 18.4 21.8
1960 4,189 1.00 4.7 49.6 17.9 32.5
1965 4,506 1.03 5.3 49.8 17.0 33.2
1970 5,048 1.11 6.2 55.5 17.8 26.7
1975 5,177 1.09 5.3 61.1 16.7 22.2
1980 5,490 1.10 5.7 64.6 16.6 18.8
1985 5,967 1.16 6.6 62.1 19.0 18.9
1990 6,134 1.15 7.6 26.8 31.0 42.2
1995 7,788 1.45 12.6 55.4 21.6 23.0
1996 8,486 1.57 14.0 52.1 22.0 25.9
1997 8,982 1.67 15.1 51.4 22.0 26.6
1998 8,881 1.65 15.3 53.5 22.5 24.0
1999 9,568 1.77 16.9 54.0 22.0 24.0
2000 10,132 1.88 18.3 . . .

women found work in the service sector in nearby towns. Beginning in the 1960s, a high proportion of commuters was typical in Slovak rural areas. By the end of the 1980s, there were villages in which 90 percent of economically active people commuted to work. After returning home from their work, people would work on their household plots: they grew crops and vegetables and reared animals, to produce both food and additional income for the family.

Single persons and childless couples would commute daily or weekly. After the birth of a child or children they often moved to the city because it offered better infrastructure and greater opportunities. (As a rule, people moved within short distances from their village to the nearby district capital.) In the urban centers they had access to various services. Highly educated parents wanted their children to have better access to various after-school activities (educational and recreational). The number of families who owned a second home also increased. On weekends, urban dwellers went back to their villages where they did gardening in order to improve their economic situation.

Since the 1970s it became a characteristic feature of rural and urban families in Slovakia for both parents to be employed. The economic activity of women was primarily motivated by the need to obtain additional income for the family. At the end of the 1990s, the majority of wives preferred being employed to the role of a housewife, even if their husbands' earnings were sufficient to support the family.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsSlovakia - Marriage, Selection Of Partners, Termination Of Marriage, Changes In The Family, Standard Of Living - Family Contacts and Relations