Cross-national comparisons: a missing link in the relationship between policies and fertility? A comparative study of fertility decision making of Polish nationals in Poland and UK

Joanna Marczak, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Wendy Sigle, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Ernestina E. Coast, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Numerous academic studies have examined whether policies can be used to increase fertility in European countries. Thus far, the evidence from quantitative studies is mixed. Moreover, evidence from case studies of very low fertility countries such as Poland indicate that the introduction or expansion of numerous fertility-friendly policies has had limited impact. In analysing the association between policies and fertility demographers examine variables at national level, but given recent opportunities for free movement in the EU, it is likely that individuals attend to the levels of support provided in other nations as well as their own. Based on in-depth semi-structured interviews (n=42) with Polish men and women in UK and Poland, we illustrate that childbearing decisions involve frequent comparisons of policy packages and standards of living in different countries. These kind of cross-national comparisons could explain the weak and inconsistent evidence of the importance of policy in previous studies.

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Presented in Session 34: Making use of family policy: fertility and labour market effects