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Positive demographic development in Croatia
\"\" Marijo Živković, co-director of Family Center in Zagreb (Croatia)

Reported at The Third Annual International Riga Family Forum “The Natural Family as a Value and State\'s Priority” (Latvia, May, 2011)

Croatia is a European country with 4,5 million population. We have the same or similar demographic problems as the rest of Europe. Voluntary limitation of the number of children to one or two, and consequently less births than deaths.

Pro-family educational work

Due to widespread educational pro-family work carried out systematically during the times of relative freedom of action since 1966 as well as during the times of much more freedom after 1990., the family situation in Croatia has changed for better in many aspects.

One characteristic of that educational work was successful efforts to argue for family values with such arguments as justice, honesty, true love, quality of life, joy in life, constructivity, creativity, human dignity, value and importance of every human person, scientific information, especially about humanity of unborn child from the moment of conception, developing clear vocabulary, etc.

We have now statisticaly visible results:

  1. The number of registered abortions has reduced from over 40,000 a year during the  communist time  to about 4,500 a year in the last several years.
  2. At the same time, the number of families with three or more children has increased. For the last 15 years, Croatia was the only European country where the number of families with three or more children has been increasing, as opposed to such countries as, e.g., Poland, Ireland, Slovakia and others. (Data from European Council publications.)
  3. Only about 10 percent of Croatian children were born out of wedlock (in Poland—about 17 percent, in Slovakia—24 percent, in Ireland—about 30 percent, in the neighbouring Slovenia—40 percent.)
  4. In 2009, among all the women who ever gave birth to a child, there were more than 85 percent of those who never aborted their children.
  5. There is a small percentage of women using hormonal contraception in Croatia. Contraception promoters complain in Croatian anti-family press that only 11 percent of Croatian women use contraceptives.
  6. Since 1986, only about 900 people are known to be infected by HIV. About 45 percent of them are homosexuals.
  7. Due to systematic work of pro-family organizations, usage and promotion of condoms is rather limited in Croatia. We use WHO statements where it is said that though the proper usage of condoms allows only to diminish the risks of STD and HIV contamination, not to avoid.
  8. Due to educational efforts, IVF is now more rarely used.
  9. For the last 30 years, about 75 percent of married couples in Croatia live the whole life as a first-marriage families. Among the divorced couples, about 38 percent are childless (childless are about 23 percent of all Croatian couples), as many divorced couples have one child (one-child families are 15 percent of all Croatian couples ), and only about 25 percent of divorced couples have two or more children (about 85 percent of all couples with children have at least two children).
  10. Started in 2002, noisy promotion of homosexuality, with great help of media financed from outside Croatia, was met by intelligent educational efforts against homosexual behaviour. The results of the efforts were so remarkable that recently promoters of homosexuality started to state that so-called homophobia—their word for negative positions of homosexuality—is growing in Croatia.

Growth of the number of families with three or more children

Growth of the number of families with three or more children, I think, is most important among all the recent demographic improvements in Croatia.

Let\'s look at other countries. In Poland, legal abortion has almost completely eliminated, but the number of such families is decreasing there. In Ireland, abortion is prohibited by the Constitution, but the number of such families is decreasing too. In Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and other European countries with very high standards of living, the number of families with three or more children is also getting smaller and smaller.

How we succeeded

We concentrated on so-called personal reasons to love, since having several children is based on true, intelligent and mature love. Having studied the families which in very different socio-economic situation have mature love and therefore decide to have several children, we identified such reasons and started promote them. With the help of those reasons we answered to standard excuses couples usually quoted to justify limiting the number of their children to one or two. 

Back in 1973, we printed 300,000 brochures with our arguments.  I will mention here only three of them:

  • parents can do nothing more valuable for their first two children they love than give birth to a brother or sister who will love and take care of the previous children 20 or 30 years after the parents die;
  • if I am really convinced that I am a valuable and an important person, I would like to have sons similar to me. If I am really convinced that my wife is a valuable and an important person, I would like to have daughters similar to her.
  • a greatest creativity available to a human person is parenthood. A couple can do nothing more valuable and important than bring into
    existence a new human being.

Some difficulties we encounter

The difficulty of our work is to oppose an aggressive anti-family activity of mass-media, government officials and some NGOs:

  • a great part of the national mass-media is negative regarding ethical and family values;
  • government officials are verbally for family values, but in reality often act against them, as in cases with sex education, laws regarding IVF, laws on discrimination, laws about same sex communities, etc;
  • anti-family NGOs heavily financed by EU, EC and Soros Foundation Open Society with support of media to promote anti-family patterns.

Mass distribution of educational materials

During the communist time (since 1966 we had more freedom than the other communist countries) we printed and distributed as gift hundreds of thousands booklets and leaflets  promoting love to unborn children, having several children, building beautiful, successful and joyful family life, etc. Since the liberation from communism, we printed and distributed millions of booklets and more then a million of books with same messages.

Back in the communist time, we came to schools and churches and show there movies where it was explained that an unborn child is a human being.

When we have money, we buy some space in newspapers and publish our pro family messages.

Fact is that we would have much better results if we would succeed in spreading intelligent messages among all population of Croatia by and doing it repeatedly according to the best promotional methods. Unfortunately, we still have not succeeded in that...

The final remarks

Our government and many local authorities take measures to help families with several children financially. It is very good, it is just, it is necessary. But the government activity in that field has one negative effect. The government speaks about only financial measures to help families to have more children. But speaking about more money to have more children, the government unintentionally repeats excuses often used by couples for limiting the number of their children (complaining about lack of money, good housing, etc.)

In Croatia, we do not use term “natural family”. We associate the word “natural” mostly with landscapes, forests, etc. We prefer the term “true family”; and as often as possible we specify what we mean by true family, true parenthood, true love, which is between one man and one woman and is irrevocable, unconditional, lifelong, faithful, tender, respectful, active, serious and mature. 


Дата публикации: 2011-05-22 01:27:19