Thursday, 17 January 2013

Romania's Policy

Attempts to manage population: Romania

Who & When 

From 1966 to 1989, Nicolae Ceauşesu, a Romanian communist, gained power & took action when Romania’s population growth was rapidly approaching zero.


First of all, a pro-natal policy was introduced prohibiting abortions with the exceptions being: if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest, if it endangered the life of the mother, if the women was over 45 or if she had already had and raised four children, which was then raised to five children in 1985. As a an incentive & a way of enforcing this, men and women who were still childless after the age of 25 were taxed up to 20% of their income. Furthermore, restrictions on divorce became much stricter, only allowing them in exceptional cases.


The aim was to boost population growth by increasing the birth and fertility rates as to ensure there were enough labour suppliers in the future to allow industrialisation to continue. 

Extent of Success

The birth rate before Ceauşesu introduced this policy was 14.3 per 1000 but rapidly increased to 27.4 per 1000 within a year which appeared to be a great success. Additionally the number of divorces plummeted to only 28 a year (down from 26,000) after he rose to power, and the number of legal abortions fell to 52,000 (down from 1 million) within the same time. It terms of reducing the amount of abortions, Ceauşesu was very successful, and this was partly as a result of situating police in hospitals so that illegal abortions were not performed. Overall, the costs on material incentives rose by 470%.

However, there was consequently a rise in infant and maternal mortality rates diminishing the success somewhat. Also once the police stopped monitoring abortions, there was a surge in the amount of legal abortions taking place, and the taxing incentive obviously did'nt appeal strongly enough because the increase in birth rate was only temporary - the rate had fallen back to 14.3 by 1983. The regime was clearly very successful initially but it did'nt last.

In order to try and turn this around in 1984, the legal marriage age for women was lowered to 15, taxes were increased for childless individuals over 25, miscarriages were investigated and the severity of punishment for those participating in illegal abortions was increased resulting in a one year prison sentence for the women involved and up to five years for the doctor. As well as this, women had to attend monthly gynaecological examinations to ensure that all pregnancies were detected as soon as possible and then carried through. This was taken further with childless couples being investigated and treatments being recommended to increase their fertility.  By 1985, the government’s policies hadn’t really achieved much success with a birth rate of 16 per 1000, only slightly higher than it was initially.

Despite being constantly met with failure, Ceauşesu continued with his regime in 1986 through the mass media.  It was propaganda, portraying family life, especially, within large families as something that should be aimed for as well as making suggestions about how it was people’s ‘patriarchal duty’ and ‘moral obligation’. Yet there was a major flaw in these attempts, in that they didn’t take women’s economic situation into consideration and that no material incentive or otherwise was enough to convince them that children would make their life any easier, or that they would be able to support their children.

As can be seen in the population pyramid of 1990, once the regime was over, in contrast to the one of 1965, before the regime began, there has been a minimal increase amongst the youthful population, particularly in the age range of 20-24. It was short-lived success but did prevent population growth ceasing throughout by increasing it by around 4 million people.

 Moral Issues

The main issue is whether it was morally wrong to instruct women on what they could & couldn’t do with their own bodies, essentially ordering them to get pregnant and not allowing them to terminate a pregnancy.

Is it still in operation?
The regime hasn’t been in operation for over 20 years now and although abortion is now legal in Romania, the rate has been gradually decreasing since 1990. However in 2012 there has been a proposal for a legislation change. The Democratic Liberal Party want to introduce a project in which women considering abortions must undergo psychological counselling sessions before doing so to make them fully aware of what they are going to undergo, and to try and convince them otherwise. 

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