Is There a Deadline for Parenthood? An Example from Poland

Monika Mynarska, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

The postponement of childbearing occurs universally across Europe and U.S.A., but still the paths of this trend differ profoundly from country to country. In Poland, similarly to other Central and Eastern European countries, women have their first child still at the relatively early ages. This paper asks the question about the role of the 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 the age is indeed a salient dimension that structures and regulates individual childbearing plans. The qualitative approach of our study allows for gaining insights in how the age norms are explained, argued about and sanctioned. We also reconstruct the mechanisms of the normative influence of the age limits (deadlines) on the fertility behaviour. Thus, the study not only improves our understanding of the timing of childbearing but also contributes to the general discussion on the age norms.

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Presented in Session 96: Ideational Factors in Fertility Behavior and Change