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Abstract

In this article we analyse the dynamics of marriage and childbearing in Uzbekistan through the prism of the recent socioeconomic and political history of that country. After becoming an independent nation in 1991, Uzbekistan abandoned the Soviet modernization project and aspired to set out on a radically different course of economic, social, and political development. We argue, however, that not only independence but also the preceding period of perestroika reforms (1985–91) had a dramatic effect on social conditions and practices and, consequently, the demographic behaviour of the country's population. Using data from the 1996 Uzbekistan Demographic and Health Survey we apply event–history analysis to examine changes in the timing of entry into first marriage, first and second births over four periods: two periods of pre–perestroika socialism, the perestroika years, and the period since independence. We investigate the factors that influenced the timing of these events in each of the four periods among Uzbeks, the country's eponymous and largest ethnic group, and among Uzbekistan's urban population. In general, our results point to a dialectic combination of continuity and change in Uzbekistan's recent demographic trends, which reflect the complex and contradictory nature of broader societal transformations in that and other parts of the former Soviet Union.