Special Collection 3 - Article 9 | Pages 213-244

Becoming a Mother in Hungary and Poland during State Socialism

By Livia Sz. Oláh, Ewa Frątczak

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Date received:23 Apr 2003
Date published:17 Apr 2004
Word count:7006
Keywords:education, educational attainment, female employment, first birth, gender, gender relations, Hungary, Poland, women’s economic independence


In this paper, we study the transition to motherhood in the first co-residential union in the dual-earner context of state socialism, namely in Hungary and Poland between the late 1960s and the end of the 1980s. Our analyses are based on data extracted from the Polish and the Hungarian Fertility and Family Surveys of the early 1990s. We use the hazard regression method as our analytical tool.
Our results for Hungary indicate that women’s employment does not necessarily reduce the propensity to become a mother if the combination of labor-force participation and family life has been facilitated by policy measures. In Poland however, this was more difficult, and state support was somewhat less generous, thus part-time workers and housewives had substantially higher first-birth intensity than full-time employed women. Even so, we find indication for Poland, that as policy measures increasingly improved the conditions to combine employment and family responsibilities, the propensity to have the first child increased.
The timing of first birth varied greatly across educational levels. Highly educated women were more likely to postpone the transition to motherhood, which in turn resulted in their overall lower propensity to have the first child in both countries, but less so in Hungary than in Poland.

Author's Affiliation

Livia Sz. Oláh - Stockholm University, Sweden [Email]
Ewa Frątczak - Warsaw School of Economics, Poland [Email]

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