Low Fertility, Unborn Children: A 'Hidden Cost' of Social Mobility for Roma College Graduate Women in Hungary?

Judit Durst , University College London
Fanni Dés, Centre for Social Sciences

This paper analysis how the ‘hidden costs of upward social mobility’ (Cole-Omari, 2008) affect family formation, work orientation and childbearing intentions among academically high-achieving, Roma women with university degree in Hungary, and what consequences of their social ascension has on their childbearing practices. We demonstrate through our in-group and inter-group analysis of the narratives of 65 women, gathered by semi-structured, in-depth life trajectory interviews, how preferences towards work and family are constructed in this group and how these preferences are related to their reproductive strategies. These women, aged between 26-59 years old, have an average of 1.1 children. One of the hidden costs of their upward mobility, we argue, that they cannot realize their fertility intentions, due to their difficulties in partner selection. Our research has also demonstrated how life-story narratives can illuminate the complex interplay between gender, class and ethnicity/race in relation to the construction of individual preferences towards (paid) work, family and childbearing. We argue, on the basis of our findings that social categories such as class and ethnicity/race are still ‘strong’ social facts that can shape people’s lives, construct their preferences, and hinder their choices. Most of our studied Roma women have developed a 'minority culture of mobility', to mitigate the price of their upward social mobility, of which a particular element is their unrealized childbearing intention.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course