Closer than expected: comparing changing family patterns in Italy and Poland

Irena E. Kotowska, Warsaw School of Economics
Gustavo De Santis, University of Florence
Silvana Salvini, University of Florence

Italy and Poland have been chosen for a comparative study on family change following the comparative framework suggested by Neyer and Andersson (2008). Despite their geographical distance, the two countries share several similar traits: low fertility, delayed diffusion of cohabitation and non-marital childbearing, strong attachment to Catholic and family values, weak public support for working parents, traditional gender norms, rigid working hours. However, one should not neglect some differences in both timing and pace of family changes, labour market developments, especially women’s labour force participation, as well as living conditions. These differences appear to be strong to the extent that the question arises: are Italy and Poland similar ‘enough’ to be used for a comparative study on family changes which follows the framework referred? In this paper we will try to answer that question by applying a two-stage procedure. Firstly, we will show that Italy and Poland are distant from other members of the EU and close to each other in terms of some background variables to be selected for the comparison purpose. Next, we will present family changes in both countries, referring also to their socio-economic and cultural contexts, to demonstrate that similarities and differences make it possible to search for their causes needed to understand ongoing family change. Neyer Gerda and Andersson Gunnar (2008). Consequences of family policies on childbearing behavior: effects or artifacts? Population and Development Review 34 (4): 699–724.

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Presented in Session 105: Changing unions and childbearing