The development of demography as science in South Eastern Europe since the 1950s

Attila Melegh, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute

As part of a longer term effort this history paper intends to understand how “developmental” competition with the “West” shaped demographic discourses in South-Eastern Europe in the context of demographic processes and institutionalized control of “population resources”. The paper will compare population and migration discourses and relate them to longer term historical development of migration, mortality, fertility and family formation in four countries in South and South Eastern Europe (Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia/Serbia and Bulgaria). The four countries have been chosen as they had a distinct and highly important contribution to global and European population debates and policies since the 1950s. At the same time they represent close but varying versions socialisms, post-transition capitalisms with somewhat different demographic trajectories. Based on an understanding of the pre 2nd World War discursive and demographic scenario this project focuses on the second half of the 20th century till the early-21st century. Beside various academic publications, the analysis will be based on texts, interventions by "experts" and "academics" related to global population debates at UN Conferences, IUSSP population conferences. Some of those events actually took place in the region under study. For the last historical period to be analyzed (the early 21st century) beside elite perceptions, popular cognitive structures concerning “development” and population change will be also addressed. In order to relate discourses to processes, the paper will analyze a set of demographic processes also in a global comparative framework. The paper will integrate the linked discursive and demographic processes into the analysis of how scholars and population experts envisaged "development" in terms of demographic change and proposed ways to secure a better position in global competition.

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Presented in Poster Session 1