Ivett Szalma - Borbála Júlia Szczuka (2024). Reproductive Choices and Climate Change in a Pronatalist Context


This study contributes to a better understanding of how individuals make decisions about childbearing according to their views on climate change and how they rationalize their reproductive choices in a pronatalist country, Hungary. Using forty-four semi-structured interviews conducted between September 2020 and March 2022 in Hungary, we found that women are more concerned with the future of their children than the carbon footprint of their (potential) children. Most interviewees consider having children to be an important part of a woman’s life, and some even regard it as a duty not only to maintain the population size but also because they believe future generations will be more environmentally aware and provide solutions for the climate crisis. In addition, there are condemnatory attitudes towards those who do not want children because of the consequences of climate change. We also found a pattern of planning to have fewer children or planning alternative routes to parenthood (adoption) due to climate change–related concerns. While climate change was acknowledged as a relevant issue, overpopulation was considered less concerning, and there is a prevailing belief that efforts to decrease fertility rates should primarily target developing countries. Generally, interviewees support the Hungarian government’s pronatalist family policy; nevertheless, some feel that the state degrades women by treating them only according to their roles as mothers.