The East European Population since 1850

Research question/goal: 

The aim of the research project consisted in writing a comprehensive historical data handbook for the east European population from 1850 to the present. The main topics of the volume are population structure, population development and vital statistics, mortality, and household and family structures. Research was guided by the question, if the basic cleavage, much debated in literature, between west and central/east Europe with respect to main demographic dimensions (e.g. marriage behaviour, complex households) can be verified. In order to answer the main and guiding research question concerning the existence of a major structural difference between west and central/east Europe a comprehensive data collection for 21 countries was created, documenting the main structures and trends. Basically, it was sought to cover the overall process of the demographic transition, by this way extending the time frame back to the 19th century. This data collection is offered to the scientific public in the book itself, and furthermore, and much more detailed on a CD-ROM attached to the book. 21 standardized country profiles describe the most important national demographic patterns and long-term trends. A comparative introduction describes and analyzes significant country differences and tries to reveal territorial patterns. Central results of the project are able to confirm the above-mentioned thesis of considerable demographic differences between west and central/east Europe. These differences remain in existence, even if the west European average demographic developments are compared to the national developments presented in the volume. Thus, e.g. the thesis of two separate European marriage patterns can be confirmed, and it is shown that these patterns still existed until the late 20th century, but except the Baltic countries and Malta. In eastern Europe, complex households were and still are also much more frequent than in western Europe. Nevertheless, it has to be emphasized that the removal of the political cleavage dividing the continent enabled substantial processes of diffusion which increasingly move east European demography to the western pattern. Despite these basic structural differences eastern Europe is no homogeneous territory: quite similar to western Europe tremendous national differences between north and south- (east Europe) do exist. In addition, it is shown that national differences do increase since 1990, because some countries faster than others adopt demographic patterns (like e.g. cohabitation, or births out-of-wedlock) having been established in western Europe much earlier.

Fact sheet

2005 to 2011
Data Sources: 
Official statistics, social and demographic surveys, legislative sources
Geographic Space: 
Eastern Europe



Rothenbacher, Franz (2012): The Central and East European Population since 1850. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England, UK; New York, NY, USA: Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Publishers Limited. [The Societies of Europe; 5] more