Sofia is known as the Bulgarian city of opportunities. So many universities and companies with new offices are there. And they make the capital such a vibrant place. That's why many people go there to study or to work after they graduate from high school in their hometown.
So when a city has a constantly flowing young population, the normal perception is that the birthday rate there is high. This is why Sofia has to be the area with higher coefficients than other places.
But, surprisingly, if we look at the Eurostat regional yearbook statistics data, we see that the total coefficient of fertility, which shows the average number of children born from women of childbearing age, compared to all women of childbearing age (15 to 45 years old), is 1.29 for Sofia city.
At the same time, this coefficient is significantly higher in Sofia city province where the figure is 1.91.
Our first assumption, when we consider families with high birthrates, is that we must be referring to Roma families. So are they behind the statistics showing a high coefficient of fertility in Sofia province? According to the professor of demography and deputy dean of the Faculty of Geology and Geography at Sofia University, Georgi Bardarov, the answer is yes. There are municipalities in Sofia province with a concentration of Roma population. According to Bardarov, municipalities such as Etropole, Samokov and Ihtiman have a high level of Roma and, respectively, a higher birth rate.
According to Analysis of the Integration Process, made under a European project for integration of vulnerable groups from 2020, 19% of the population in Etropole city is Roma, and women of Roma origin give birth to twice as many babies as other women in the municipality.
At first glance, this makes sense - the district with a high Roma population Sliven has the highest rate in the country: 2.59.
But a check of the 2020 figures casts doubt on that. For example, in Sofia-city 10.6 children are born per 1000 people, while in Etropole they were 8.5, and in Samokov - 10.2. However, Ihtiman visibly exceeds the capital with 12.2 children per 1000.
That's why Bardarov (who is also a writer and winner of this year's European Prize for Literature with the novel Absolvo te) adds a few more explanations:
- More young people in Sofia.
"In Sofia-city we have a concentration of a younger population, i.e. newborn children are distributed to a larger number of women of childbearing age, while in Sofia province, excluding Roma, the population is aging and women of childbearing age are fewer. Thus, newborn children are distributed among fewer women and this raises the ratio," explains Bardarov.
- The higher education levels and dynamics of life in capital Sofia city determine the lower reproductive attitudes of people.
In other words, the more educated and ambitious you are, the more likely you are to forgo having many children. And this affects the statistics. And Sofia is full of ambitious young people.
- Not everyone living in Sofia is actually registered as a Sofia resident.
So this is an old statistics problem that distorts everything: from migration statistics to car registrations.