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Kin support and childbearing intentions: Polish mothers and fathers in Poland and in the UK

Hosted by the School's - Evolutionary Demography Group 


Reproductive decisions imply long-term direct and indirect costs. Individuals may draw on family, the market and the welfare state to reduce such costs, and to attain resources seen as necessary for childbearing. Reliance on different sources for childbearing capital may have diverse impact on reproductive choices.

The evidence presented in this paper is based on 42 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with Polish mothers and fathers in the UK and Poland. Respondents in Poland often resorted to the market and extended family to obtain resources perceived as important for childbearing. The pervasiveness and importance of long-term kin support in the Polish familialistic context, may however have negative consequences for childbearing decisions because many parents in Poland expect to invest rather heavily in their children long into adulthoods.

Since children with fewer siblings have better access to parental support and inheritable wealth, having fewer children and investing more heavily per child is the preferred choice for many parents. Polish respondents in London did not (expect to) draw on kin support and the resources derived from the market and the welfare state were perceived to be sufficient for childbearing.

Expectations about the necessity of long-term financial investment in children were overall lower in London than in Krakow. Living in the UK was perceived by many parents as providing their children with good prospects of succeeding in the future because, for instance, children raised in London learn the English language and will have British education which was believed to provide them with better employment opportunities.

The link between kin support and childbearing intentions is however complex, context specific and could well change for an individual when they migrate. 


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