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Demography and Nation

Social Legislation and Population Policy in Bulgaria, 1918–1944

Svetla Baloutzova
Center for Advanced Study, Sofia

Throughout centuries, authorities have put pains into ‘engineering’ their populations by attempting to regulate the birth and child mortality trends in either direction, or striving to achieve a desired ‘population quality’ design. The book contributes to the historical studies pursued in the social policy and population domain by channelling scholarly curiosity towards the less known path of East Europe.

The monograph investigates the origins of state policy toward population and the family in Bulgaria. Reconstructs the evolution of state legislation in the field of social policy toward the family between the two World Wars, colored by concerns about the national good and demographic considerations. It sets the laws regarding family welfare in their framework of a distinctively cultural, historical and political discourse to follow the motives behind the legislative initiatives.

An important contribution to the interdisciplinary field of social history and historical demography, and a link between the ideological roots of social and population policy in the past and of today.

This is the first volume in the CEU Press Studies in the History of Medicine series


Acknowledgement Transliteration table of Bulgarian Cyrillic List of Tables Introduction 1. Outlining the problem 2. Methodology 3. A historical outline of the period under investigation 4. Social and demographic structure of interwar Bulgaria 5. A history of Bulgarian legislation – an outline PART I: REGENERATING A DEFEATED NATION Chapter 1: Building-up a Maternal and Child Healthcare 1. An ‘orange’ start: the BANU’s Bill for People’s Health (1923) 2. The Democratic Alliance and the 1929 Law for People’s Health 3. Fertility decrease and the rediscovery of state welfare Chapter 2: Public Assistance 1. State protection of the family: the privileged child 2. Legislation on family allowances in Bulgaria 3. the disadvantaged child: The Law for Children Born Outside Marriage and their Avowal, and for Adoption, November 1940 PART II: Towards Pronatalism Chapter 3: Demography, media representations and parliamentary discourse 1. The ‘Discovery’ of birth decline 2. Demographers on the ‘collapsing’ demographic trend 3. Mass media responses to fertility decline 4. Early parliamentary alarm about birth decline Chapter 4 : Activities ‘from below’: the League of Mnogodetni, child-rich parents 1. Historical Overview 2. Organisation 3. Combating poverty Chapter 5: Petŭr Gabrovski and the Law for Large, Mnogodetni, Bulgarian Families 1. Ideological background 2. The Law for Large, Mnogodetni Bulgarian Families 3. The bachelor’s tax controversy 4. The legal aftermath Conclusions Bibliography Index

"This book by Svetla Baloutzova is a groundbreaking study of the evolution of social legislation broadly related to population policy in interwar Bulgaria. Exceedingly well written and meticulously researched, the book is not a simple investigation of legal process or policy as the title indicates. Rather it offers a thoroughly contextualized analysis of population-related laws, political programs, and public debate within interwar Bulgaria, while continuously drawing connections to the broader context of European and global cultural concerns and political programs.
The setting for the book is post–World War I Bulgaria, demoralized and defeated, transformed by war and its aftermath into a cauldron of mass politics and heightened social expectations. As elsewhere in Europe, the specter of Marxist revolution and the newly forming Soviet state loom large and shape many of the anxieties and political programs of the period. Baloutzova’s narrative highlights the continuities in the Bulgarian interwar legal landscape in relation to these issues, namely the continual promotion of a pro-natalist program for the advancement of the health and welfare of Bulgaria’s women and children." - Slavic Review

"Baloutzova's stated goal is modest-uncovering the early stages of state-instigated family policies, as well as the governmental and popular ideology behind them. Her results, however, are pioneering. No one heretofore has undertaken the meticulous reconstruction of legislative policies. Drawing on a rich variety of sources from a half-dozen Bulgarian repositories-mostly parliamentary minutes and appendixes, archival documentary data from several ministries (tracing the justification of certain bills and investigations), newspapers, and magazines-as well as from personal memoirs, Baloutzova's social history competently maneuvers between issues of historical demography, political history, medical history, and legal studies. Her careful writing skillfully balances the survey component (especially for readers unfamiliar with Bulgarian history) with the specifics of the issue at hand." - The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"An extremely valuable piece, which should be read by scholars and students working on the global history of demographic thinking and/or on East European history. It is a proper, well-researched historical analysis of several important legislative acts and their political and discursive contexts in Bulgaria, including the 1923 Bill for Public Health, the 1934 Decree-Law for Public Assistance, the gradual development of family allowance, legislation on children born outside marriage and, very importantly, the history of the 1943 law on child-rich families. This nuanced local analysis, with excellent notes on comparative issues, sheds light on many aspects of East European management of population development. If carefully read, the work of Baloutzova, together with the current works of Marius Turda on the interrelationship between nation and eugenics or some of the new pieces on Romania, Hungary and the Balkans, can be excellent starting points in understanding the early twentieth-century East European story of demographic thinking as related to the much-researched Italian, German, French or even North American developments in the first half of the twentieth century.
The crucial contribution of Baloutzova's work is: first, that she is aware of the global positioning game; second, she dares to show the Janus face of East European demographic nationalisms; and, third, she shows some of the key elements in this complexity." - Journal of Continuity and Change

296 pages
ISBN 978-963-9776-66-1 cloth $50.00 / €45.00/ £40.00