Economic and non-economic aspects of individual fertility choices – an example from Poland

Monika Mynarska, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Over the last quarter of the century the most prominent demographic change observed in Poland has been the decrease in Total Fertility Rate, which fell from 2.26 in 1980 down to 1.22 in 2003. When explaining this trend, scholars refer to economic factors, as well as to those connected with norms and attitudes (non-economic factors). It has been proven that these determinants strongly influence fertility behaviour, but the relation between them is still not well understood. Therefore, the aim of my study is to investigate how young people perceive the economic and non-economic dimensions and how the two kinds of factors jointly shape the individual fertility choices. For the study I employ a qualitative approach, as it allows for comprehension of processes leading to observed phenomena. I analyse 48 in-depth interviews with young respondents, mostly couples (women’s age: 20-30), at the early stages of their family career. The sample consists of partners still living apart, cohabiting or married, childless or with one child. The results confirm that young people find both, economic and non-economic factors crucial for their fertility plans. However, they attach to them a different importance and also relations between them vary, when a couple decides for a first or for a second child. Moreover, the analyses show that the subjective evaluation of the available resources is of a greater importance for the individual fertility choices, than the actual material status of the couple. High expectations or strong materialistic attitudes impact the perception of own economic ability. This is one example of how economic and non-economic aspects may interact at the individual level.

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Presented in Poster Session 1