Climate Change Concerns and the Ideal Number of Children: A Comparative Analysis of the V4 Countries

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Climate Change Concerns and the Ideal Number of Children: A Comparative Analysis of the V4 Countries

  • Borbála Júlia Szczuka Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence, Hungary / Doctoral School of Sociology and Communication Science, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary

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Abstract:  The Visegrád countries (Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia) faced a sharp decline in fertility rates after the regime change in 1989. Since then, total fertility rates have largely remained below the EU average, although they have increased during the past decade. Family policies (support for the parental caregivingmodel) and the conditions of women’s employment might be shaping these trends. Besides the pronatalist rhetoric, there is another reason why people might alter their fertility plans: climate change‐related worries. Our analysis in this article examines whether such concerns exist in these four countries, pointing out that the efficacy of pronatalist measures depends on the widespread adoption of such attitudes among young people of childbearing age. Pronatalist pressure is strong in the V4 countries but may be diluted by strengthening environmentalist norms. Scholarship about the relationship between climate change‐related concerns and fertility in these pronatalist countries is scarce. I examine this potential relationship by analysing respondents’ ideas about the generally and personally ideal number of children using Eurobarometer data from 2011 through logistic regression analysis. The results are contradictory: Climate change concerns seem to be positively associated with a smaller ideal family size in Hungary, but only from a general perspective (i.e., not for respondents personally). A positive relationship can be found in the Czech Republic regarding climate concerns and personal ideal family size. In Slovakia, a strong negative association was observed between climate change‐related concerns and smaller general and personal ideal family sizes.

Keywords:  climate change; childbearing intentions; family policy; environmental policy; ideal number of children; Visegrád countries


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