Is There a Deadline for Parenthood?
An Example from Poland
The postponement of childbearing is occurring across Europe and the USA, but the paths of this trend differ profoundly from country to country. In Poland, as in other Central and Eastern European countries, most women have their first child at a relatively young age. This paper asks about the role of age norms in sustaining the pattern of early motherhood. We investigate young adults’ perceptions of age in relation to their fertility choices. We find that age is indeed a salient dimension that structures and regulates individual childbearing plans. The qualitative approach of our study allows for gaining insights into how age norms are explained, argued about and sanctioned. We also reconstruct the mechanisms of the normative influence of age limits (deadlines) on fertility behavior. Thus, the study not only improves our understanding of the timing of childbearing but also contributes to the general discussion on age norms.