Book chapter: Poland: Families and Family Values in Poland



This chapter provides an overview of the historical background and current situation concerning family and family values in Poland. It begins with an account of demographic transformations in the context of changing geo-political scenario of modern history, namely the post-socialist era characterized by a decline in fertility. Immigration constitutes an important variable when accounting for the demographic profile of Poland, which is an-EU sending country, with the United Kingdom and Germany as main destinations. Ageing of the population is presented in the light of healthcare services, mainly provided by the state via the National Health Fund. The demographic transition towards an aging population seems irreversible due to transition from the traditional family model rooted in intergenerational exchange to a higher number of households constituted by a single person, as a result of a decline in fertility and a high rate of emigration of young, well-educated people to developed countries. Polish workforce reflects the national pension policy and expectations related to gender roles and caregiving. The society has been described as traditional, with the predominant role of the Catholic religion and a post-communist idea of a nanny state, relatively slow in reforming its social safety nets in the last 15 years. The main directions in the family policy have been quite consistently characterized by the lack of coherence and institutional integrity, pro-natalism, and familialism. Family appears as highly valued in Polish society, which emphasizes close personalized human relations, non-utilitarian, non-pragmatic approach to daily activities, low trust in state authorities, and high status of women and femininity. Nevertheless, following the transition to democracy, family patterns have undergone many changes in Poland, challenging the previous models through increasing cohabitation, divorces, as well as same-sex, fragmented or patchwork families and weakened ties due to increasing mobility. The alternative family models (especially LGBT) and abortion legislation have been subject to numerous debates, which show the influence of the Catholic religious values in the society. The research on intergenerational family relations in Poland includes diverse qualitative and quantitative studies from a sociological and psychological perspective. Value transmission in the context of interactions between generations and challenges faced by transnational families in the migration scenario constitute two prolific research areas related to intergenerational family solidarity. There seems to be a shortage of representative longitudinal studies, which stands out as an important issue in future research.

Laura Dryjanska

Biola University, Rosemead School of Psychology, La Mirada, California, USA

Author Note

Dr. Laura Dryjanska is an Assistant Professor of Social Psychology and Industrial-Organizational Psychology at the Biola University, Rosemead School of Psychology at La Mirada, California. Previously, she was a lecturer in Organizational Psychology at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, Poland and a post-doctoral researcher at the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. Address: 13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, CA 90639, USA.  E-mail: laura.dryjanska (AT)

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