Fertility choices in Poland: quality, quantity and individualisation

Monika Mynarska, Institute of Psychology, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University

The profound decline in birth rates across Europe still remains the focal point for many demographers. Even though, we are able to list numerous factors responsible for this trend, the mechanisms of their influence in various context, as well as their interactions are still not well understood. An objective of this study is to improve our comprehension of how economic factors impact fertility choices in the context of political, economic and social transformation. We analyse 48 in-depth interviews, conducted with young couples in Poland, in 2004/2005: 15 years after the socialistic regime broke down and the free market economy was introduced, and immediately after the country has joined the European Union. This is a context of rapid economic changes, unemployment and uncertainty, but also of new hopes and opportunities. Unsurprisingly, we find that financial means are perceived crucial for fertility choices. They are, however, considered and evaluated differently in relation to first and second child. Economic hardship does not prevent people from entering parenthood, but it makes them abandon the desires for next children. Especially because young parents wish to invest a lot in their offspring. We can easily observe that there is a relation between the quality and quantity of children. A quality of children seems to be strongly connected with the new opportunities and the process of individualisation: a desire for interesting and comfortable life, personal development and self-realisation. The individualisation, however, appears to have an “indirect” character: our respondents wish for a successful life for their children, rather than for their own success.

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Presented in Session 95: Fertility in Western and Eastern Europe