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Abstract

Although cohabitation is increasingly common in Poland, it is usually considered a transitional, testing stage that leads to marriage, which constitutes the preferred form of family life in the country. Does it mean that couples who do not choose to marry are perceived as somewhat “worse” than those tying the knot? Using qualitative data from focus group interviews with 69 men and women aged 25–40, I aimed to answer the following questions: What are social perceptions of couples who have already “tested” their relationship, but still live together and refrain from marriage? In particular, what are the motives attributed to such couples and how – if at all – these motives are linked to the quality of the relationships? There were four themes related to such motives identified in the analysed material: (1) the perception of marriage as an unnecessary expense that does not change anything in a relationship, or even makes things worse; (2) fear of an ultimate commitment; (3) uncertainty whether this is the right partner and the resulting low level of commitment in the relationship; (4) rejection of traditional gender roles. Commitment appears central in the analysed discussions suggesting that this concept should constitute an important topic in future studies on unions in Poland.
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Abstract

Previous studies identified large differences between countries in the extent to which childbearing intentions are realised. Failure to realise an intention to become a parent was found to be particularly common in the post-socialist countries. In this paper we examine whether similarly low rates of realisation of fertility intentions can be found in Poland. We use two waves of the Polish Generations and Gender Survey (GGS-PL), conducted in 2010/2011 and 2014/2015. We first describe fertility intentions of Polish women and men as declared at the survey’s first wave. Next, we examine whether the short-term childbearing intentions expressed at wave 1 were followed by an actual birth by the second round of the data collection. For the respondents who did not get a child between waves 1 and 2, we analyse the stability of their fertility plans. We find that approximately 35% of the respondents who at wave 1 intended to have a child in the next three years actually had one by wave 2. Both realisation and stability of fertility intentions varied markedly by gender and parity.
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