Women’s self-employment and fertility in Poland

Monika Mynarska, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University
Anna Matysiak, Warsaw School of Economics

The relationship between fertility and employment has been widely studied in demographic research. Not many studies have been conducted on the relationship between childbearing and self-employment, however. This relationship may vary depending on which motives drive women’s decision to set up their own business. Three motives may be important in contemporary European societies. First, women may decide for self-employment in order to pursue a professional career. Such women are expected to postpone motherhood. Second, a decision to establish a company can well be driven by a necessity, i.e. discrimination in the labour market or inability to find a job. In such situations self-employment may also be associated with low fertility. Last but not least, self-employment can be perceived by women as a way of work and family reconciliation since it offers more flexibility with respect to the working hours than a regular work contract. In such a case, self-employment could facilitate childbearing. In this paper we explore the role of self-employment for fertility in Poland where this issue has not been addressed yet. In order to explore the role of self-employment for fertility we combine qualitative and quantitative approaches. The analysis of in-depth semi-structured interviews provides us with indications for a role of self-employment for women’s reproductive decisions. Event-history models of the transition to first and second birth allow us to establish the relationship between self-employment and fertility in a quantitative manner. Our findings illustrate that work and family reconciliation is an important motive for establishing an own business for Polish women. Consistently, self-employed women progress more quickly to their first and second child than employees.

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Presented in Session 18: Economics and labor market issues