Things to Gain, Things to Lose: Perceived Costs and Benefits of Children and Intention to Remain Childless in Poland

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access | Ahead of Print | Last Modified: 19 July 2022

Things to Gain, Things to Lose: Perceived Costs and Benefits of Children and Intention to Remain Childless in Poland


  • Monika Mynarska Institute of Psychology, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland
  • Zuzanna Brzozowska Vienna Institute of Demography, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria / Wittgenstein Centre, Austria


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Abstract:  A rapid fertility decline observed in Poland since the 1990s has been accompanied by a marked increase in childlessness. This may seem surprising given the high value placed on parenthood in the country. Some evidence exists on how childlessness in Poland relates to biological and situational constraints, but still relatively little is known about how the decision to never have children is made, especially among men. This article contributes to this literature by analysing how the perceived positive and negative consequences of parenthood affect the reproductive intentions of childless women and men of different socioeconomic characteristics in Poland. Using a subsample of childless respondents extracted from the second wave of the Polish Generation and Gender Survey, we examine the interplay between (a) the intention to remain childless, (b) the perceived costs and benefits of having children, included as a unique set of questions in the Polish Generation and Gender Survey (GGS), and (c) respondents’ socioeconomic characteristics (education, employment, household financial situation, and the size of the place of residence). The results suggest that among women both costs and benefits strongly affect the likelihood of intending to remain childless, whereas among men only the benefits matter. While the effects do not depend on any of the socioeconomic characteristics, the probability of not intending to have a child does vary by some of them. Our results indicate the pattern of fertility polarisation already seen in some low‐fertility countries: for the disadvantaged segment of the population, it is increasingly difficult to become parents.

Keywords:  childbearing intentions; childbearing motivations; childlessness; costs and benefits of children; Poland

Published:   Ahead of Print

Issue:   Fragile Pronatalism? Barriers to Parenthood, One-Child Families, and Childlessness in European Post-Socialist Countries (Forthcoming)

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v10i3.5377


© Monika Mynarska, Zuzanna Brzozowska. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.