The Thinking 

The Divorce Revolution in Poland

June 9, 2010


ABOUT a year ago, a Polish friend said to me, “Polish people don’t get divorced.” My friend is now in the final stages of a divorce.

It used to be that Polish people didn’t get divorced, but now the heavily Catholic country is undergoing a divorce revolution along with the rest of Europe. At more than 25 percent, its divorce rate is half that of France and Germany, but still has more than doubled since 1980.

Feminism is a breeding ground for marital discontent, as this video about divorce among the Polish makes clear. One father in the video talks about his wife’s unhappiness and the subsequent collapse of their marriage.  “My wife had big plans for her life and I only got in the way,” the man states. Men are initiating divorces in Poland too, but if it fits the pattern of other Western nations, women favor divorce much more often than men, by a ratio of about three to one. Polish men seldom get custody of their children. Notice in this video, the bizarre masculine appearance of the woman who is the lawyer for the father. 

The birth rate in Poland is 1.27 children, far below the replacement level. Poles, like other Europeans, do not wish to see their culture survive. As Francis Beckwith wrote in a recent article,:

What is going on in these nations is a shared understanding among its citizenry about the nature of its culture and its progeny: our civilization’s future and the generations required to people it are not worth perpetuating. It is practical nihilism, for each nation believes that its traditions, customs, and what remains of its faith are not worthy of being preserved, developed, and shared outside of the populace that presently occupies its border.

For a complete breakdown of divorce in Europe, see this entry with statistics compiled by Jesse Powell, who also sent the video link here.


                            — Comments —

Jesse Powell writes:

How has family life in Poland evolved over the post-war 1946 to 2008 period? 

Well, in 1946, Poland’s divorce rate was a very low 2.8%. In 1950, its female to male employee ratio was 44.4%. In 1960, its illegitimacy ratio was 4.5% and its fertility rate was 2.98. I will also add that in 1950 only 37% of Poland’s population was urban. It took until 1965 before the urban population reached 50%. 

Immediately after World War II Poland’s divorce rate shot up, compared to where it was before, and women’s participation in the work force started to increase, relatively slowly at first. Poland’s divorce rate went from 2.8% in 1946 up to 5.1% in 1955 and then up to 11.8% in 1965. At the level, Poland’s divorce then stabilized and didn’t rise significantly again until 1981. 

Women’s employment level also started rising immediately after World War II, starting in 1950. The female to male employee ratio went from 44.4% in 1950 to 49.4% in 1960. Unlike the divorce rate, which stopped rising in 1965, the increase in women’s employment simply accelerated over the 1960 to 1975 period, the female to male employee ratio going from 49.4% to 73.0% over that period. 

The fertility rate was already declining in 1960, when it stood at 2.98 children per woman. The fertility rate declined steadily until 1970 when it stabilized at 2.26. Out-of-wedlock births did not increase significantly during the 1960s. 

The 1970s were a quite period in the history of Poland’s family life. Out-of-wedlock births, divorce, and fertility rates all stayed steady, the only social indicator that worsened over this period was the female to male employee ratio, which went from 64.8% in 1970 to 76.4% in 1980. Starting in 1975 however, the increase in female employment significantly slowed. From 1975 until the year 2000 the female to male employee ratio went from 73.0% to 91.1%, after which it stopped rising.

 The period 1981 to 1986 saw a sharp sudden rise in the divorce rate, from 12.5% to 19.6%. The divorce rate then stayed at this elevated level for 3 years and then declined to 13.4% in 1993.

 Starting in 1986 is when the out-of-wedlock ratio finally started to rise and the fertility rate renewed its decline down to levels well below replacement level. The illegitimacy ratio climbed quickly and steadily from 1986 until 2005, and then continued to grow more slowly during the past 3 years, from 2005 until 208. In 1986 the out-of-wedlock ratio was 5.1%. In 1996 it had grown to 10.2%, by 2005 it had reached 18.5%, and in the year 2008 it stood at 19.9%.

 The fertility rate made a catastrophic decline from 2.22 in 1986 to a low of 1.22 in 2003 from which it has since rebounded up to 1.39 in 2008.  It needs to be remembered that 1986 was a mere 3 years before the collapse of the Berlin wall and the major economic disruptions that Poland suffered during the early years of the 1990s.  The divorce rate started rising again in Poland in 1993, going from 13.4% steadily up to 24.9% in 2003; after which it made a quick rise to 32.7% in 2005 and then fell back again to 25.4% in 2008.

 For some good news, the employment rate of women stopped rising in the year 2000 and has been flat since then, from 2000 to 2008. Measuring the employment activity of women according to the labor force participation rate of men and women ages 25 to 54 years old, the employment rates of both men and women have been absolutely flat over the 2000 to 2008 period; 76% for women and 88% for men.

 This brings us up to the current day. I think Poland is benefiting from a stabilization of its social indicators in much the same way that the United States saw a slow down in the deterioration of its social indicators over the 1995 to 2005 period.



Share:Email this to someoneShare on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest0Share on Google+0