Should we marry or should we wait? Interrelation between pregnancy and decision concerning entering marriage in Poland

Krzysztof Tymicki, Warsaw School of Economics

In Poland a predominant sequence of events is: first marriage and then pregnancy and birth of the first child. This frequently translates into close correlation between increase in fertility and nuptiality rates. However, we observe a significant proportion of marriages which are contracted as a response to pregnancy (the child is on the way). Only a marginal fraction of couples decides to wait and marry after delivery or remain in an informal union. Thus pregnancy seems to be a trigger factor in decision whether to marry or not. It seems, from the sociological point of view that this is mainly due to strong social pressure (both internal and external) which drives people to marry while the child is on the way. In order to analyze this phenomenon in Poland we use a micro-census data from the National Census of 2002. In this database we have recorded complete histories of reproduction and union formation of 240 thousands of women. With use of multiple outcome hazard models we analyze interrelation between reproduction and union formation. The analysis includes an effect of calendar time, education, residence, mother’s age at delivery, age of spouses. Apart from these variables we analyze the length of an interval between conception and marriage in order to account for the fact whether couples try to hide pregnancy by keeping this interval short enough. Preliminary results show that overwhelming proportion of couples chooses “traditional model” that is marriage-conception-delivery. Much lower proportion chooses a semi-traditional model that is conception-marriage-delivery and only a marginal fraction chooses “modern model” that is conception-delivery-marriage or conception-delivery-no marriage. Moreover almost every couple decides to enter marriage as a response to information that the “child is on the way”.

Presented in Session 75: Marriage and fertility