MPIDR Working Paper

Fertility postponement and age norms in Poland: is there a deadline for parenthood?

Mynarska, M. A.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2007-029, 35 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (August 2007)
Open Access


The postponement of childbearing is occurring across Europe, but the paths of this trend differ profoundly from country to country. Especially in Central and Eastern Europe, most women have their first child at a relatively young age. This paper asks about the role of age norms in sustaining the pattern of early motherhood in Poland. The qualitative approach allows us to gain insights into how local culture shapes a positive image of early parenthood. We find a strong influence of socially defined age deadlines on the timing of childbearing. We present how age norms are explained and sanctioned. We argue that early motherhood is strongly connected to the fear of not being able to conceive in older age. And in Polish culture, childless people suffer from extremely negative opinions.
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.