The diversity puzzle – fertility in the interwar Poland and its determinants

Bartosz Ogórek, Pedagogical University of Cracow
Mikolaj Szoltysek, Max-Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (Saale)

This paper aims to investigate the regional diversity of fertility in the interwar Poland and its basic determinants. The debate, whether the fertility diversity was a typical west-east division and which socio-economic and cultural determinants were crucial for shaping this situation lasts since the 1930s (Adamowiczowa 1937; Szulc 1939; Borowski 1974; Iglicka 1994). Moreover the population of Second Polish Republic is immensely diverse itself. Conversely to the cases of Czechoslovakia, Hungary or Bulgaria (Fialova et al. 1990; Botev 1995; Béla 2002; Roupa 2012) the fertility of Polish population has not been carefully investigated yet. Thus, the research on the interwar demography of Poland could add important arguments to the more general discussion on causes and course of fertility decline in Europe. In this study we use traditional Princeton Fertility Project indices along with linear regression models and spatial analysis. We find that while the division of general fertility is indeed a west-east one, the case of martial fertility is clearly a north-south division. The general fertility shows no significant correlation with any of the non-geographic variables, while marital fertility is highly related to proportion of Roman-Catholics and Polish speakers. The results of analysis may signal two models of fertility decline in Poland. The most developed regions underwent the process of fertility decline similar to that in Western Europe, namely through the Malthusian mechanisms of marriage postponement and higher definitive celibacy rates. On the other hand, less developed voivodships, which were also much more diverse in terms of ethnicity and religion, went on to curtailing the marital fertility directly. However, even this latter part of Poland has not been monolithic as regards fertility patterns, and more detailed explanations have to be proposed (household structures, pre-modern cultural differences revealed in material aspects of agriculture, ethnicities).

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Presented in Session 111: Before, during and after the fertility transition