Deadline for Parenthood: Fertility Postponement and Age Norms in Poland

Article

Abstract

The postponement of childbearing is occurring across Europe, but the paths of this trend differ profoundly from country to country. In Poland, as in other Central and Eastern European countries, most women have their first child at a relatively young age. This article asks about the role of age norms in sustaining the pattern of early motherhood. We investigate young adults’ perceptions of age in relation to their fertility choices. We find that age is, indeed, a salient dimension that structures and regulates individual childbearing plans. The qualitative approach of our study allows for gaining insights into how age norms are explained, argued about and sanctioned. Finally, we reconstruct the mechanisms of the normative influence of age limits (deadlines) on fertility behaviour, improving our understanding of the timing of childbearing.

Keywords

Fertility postponement Age norms Post-socialist countries Poland Qualitative interviews 

L’âge limite pour avoir des enfants: Report de la procréation et normes d’âge en Pologne

Résumé

Le report de la procréation s’observe à travers l’Europe, mais les ressorts sous-jacents à cette évolution diffèrent considérablement d’un pays à l’autre. En Pologne, de même que dans d’autres pays du centre et de l’est de l’Europe, la majorité des femmes ont leur premier enfant à un âge relativement jeune. Cet article se penche sur le rôle des normes d’âge dans le maintien de la maternité précoce. La mise en relation des perceptions de l’âge et des choix procréatifs des jeunes adultes nous a permis d’établir l’importance de la dimension de l’âge dans la structuration et la régulation des choix individuels en matière de procréation. L’approche qualitative de notre étude fournit un éclairage sur la manière dont les normes d’âge sont expliquées, argumentées et approuvées. Enfin, nous reconstruisons les mécanismes de l’influence normative des âges limites sur le comportement procréatif afin de mieux comprendre le calendrier de la procréation.

Mots-clés

Report de la fécondité Normes d’âge Pays post-socialistes Pologne Entretiens qualitatifs 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was completed thanks to financial support from the European Commission within the project ‘Reproductive decision-making in a macro–micro perspective’ (REPRO) in the Seventh Framework Programme under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities theme (Grant Agreement: SSH-CT-2008-217173). I would like to thank Anna Matysiak for her very detailed comments on an earlier version of this article and her support in obtaining relevant data. Also, I kindly acknowledge Laura Bernardi, Sylvia Keim and other colleagues from the Independent Research Group for their remarks and advices. Finally, I am grateful to two anonymous reviewers of European Journal of Population for their very detailed comments that allowed for a substantial improvement of the article.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Institute of PsychologyWarsawPoland

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