Premarital conceptions and their resolution. The decomposition of trends in rural and urban areas in Poland 1985-2009
The share of out-of-wedlock births used to be small in Poland till the beginning of the nineties, but within the last two decades it has increased fourfold. So far, there have been no attempts to identify the mechanisms beyond this change. This paper presents the first systematic evidence on changes in proportion of out-of-wedlock births in rural and urban areas of Poland in 1985-2009. The increase of proportion of out-of-wedlock births may be driven by two different processes. First, it may be a consequence of changing balance between marital and premarital conceptions. Second, the share of out-of-wedlock births may rise due to a drop in incidence of shotgun weddings. The aim of this paper is to compare the contribution of these two processes based data from Birth Register. The decomposition of trends in non-marital childbearing is carried out for rural and urban areas separately because the local community context can be expected to affect both fertility and nuptiality behaviour. The results suggest that in the periods when the proportion out-of-wedlock births in Poland was increasing most rapidly, this increase was related mainly to a decline in the share of women marring in the event of premarital conception. Specifically, between 2000-2003, in towns the declining propensity for legitimation was responsible for 87% of the rise in nonmarital childbearing, whereas in rural areas only 77% of change in proportion of out-ofwedlock births could be ascribed to this factor. Since the probability that a premarital conception led to a shotgun marriages remained higher in villages than in the towns, out-ofwedlock births were spreading at higher pace in urban than in rural areas.
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