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Family Planning And Number Of Children Per Family

During the 1990s, birth rates were below replacement level (zero population growth, see Table 2) and marriage rates were on the decline. The population was getting older. In 2001 the birth rate indicators reached a level below zero population growth. In spite of restrictions and penalties, according to estimates, about 20 percent of all pregnancies end in artificially induced abortion (Montgomery 2001). Although there are fewer marriages and they are contracted at a later age, and the older generation makes up a greater proportion of the society, there has been no increase in family services or family allowances (childcare and family benefits policy). In other European countries, expanded family allowances and services have been implemented to stimulate higher birthrates. In Poland, the distribution of expenditures by the government suggests different priorities, which they consider aiding more urgent economic needs. Values that affect having children are changing; young couples delay the birth of their first child so that they may first achieve a more adequate level of economic stability. Fewer children and an older population are the case in Poland, as they are in most of the postsocialist countries. The number of children in an urban setting fluctuates between one and two; in the rural areas, it is more often two or three, and, fairly commonly, more than three. In urban areas, families with more than three children are rare (see Table 2).

The reduction in fertility since 1980 goes against the official postsocialist family policy statements. It is, however, consistent with Western values of a better life. In spite of limited means of family planning and abortion being illegal, practicing birth control results in smaller families. According to a public opinion poll (CBOS 2000, 2001), almost all respondents want to have children. The majority—62 percent—want two children; 21 percent want three children, the officially preferred model. Respondents said that the reasons preventing them from having larger families included inadequate housing conditions, insufficient state assistance, working women's fear of being fired, and concern about decrease in standard of living.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsPoland - Changes In Population And Demographic Structure Since The 1960s, Legislation Applied To Marriage, The Family, And Working Mothers