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Mate Selection

The Polish population, socially, is highly heterogeneous (the same race, the same ethnic origin, the same nationality; the majority are practicing Catholics). The population is also highly socially mobile, mainly from rural to urban areas (horizontal mobility). Among the main characteristics for mate selection is similarity of urban or rural origin, similar educational level, and emotional involvement. Poles believe in love. Young rural men have difficulties finding spouses because more young women migrate to the cities to avoid the hard work of farming.

Young people are sexually active. A 1999 public opinion survey reported that 66 percent of secondary school pupils admitted to having sexual intercourse (CBOS [M&NA;odzie&NA;] 1999). Compared with Western numbers, out-of-wedlock births are low (see Table 1). If a young woman becomes pregnant, the couple generally marries. Some tend to interpret those figures as an indication of being faithful to traditional family values. Those who experiment in alternative lifestyles face ethical and religious scorn; these lifestyles include living together (cohabiting couples in 1995 constituted 1.7 percent of the total) and same-sex couples. They are exceptions. The prevailing tradition is of heterogeneous and formally married couples, mostly in a church ceremony. The housing shortage adds another constraint to these experiments.

The younger generations of school graduates encounter obstacles in finding their first jobs. In a 2001 survey, a high percentage (68%) of people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four wanted to emigrate to Western European countries to find more job opportunities (Bińczak 2001). This trend will make young people's choice of mates even less predictable and will weaken family ties.

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