Volume 21 - Article 20 | Pages 599–626

Understanding low fertility in Poland: Demographic consequences of gendered discrimination in employment and post-socialist neoliberal restructuring

By Joanna Z. Mishtal

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Date received:25 May 2009
Date published:27 Oct 2009
Word count:9998
Keywords:childbearing, employment, employment discrimination, Europe, fertility, fertility decisions, gender equality, mixed methods, neoliberalism, Poland, postsocialist countries


After the state socialist regime of Poland collapsed in 1989, the nation’s total fertility rate plummeted from 2.1 to 1.27 by 2007. Simultaneously, Poland severely reduced social service provisions and restricted access to family planning. A three-month mixed-methods research study was conducted in 2007 in Gdańsk to investigate Polish women’s reproductive intentions and decision making. These data reveal that discriminatory practices by employers against pregnant women and women with small children are decisive in women’s decisions to postpone or forego childbearing. The case of Poland demonstrates the urgent need to redress fundamental gendered discrimination in employment before work-family reconciliation policies can be effective.

Author's Affiliation

Joanna Z. Mishtal - University of Central Florida, United States of America [Email]

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