Fertility pattern and living arrangements in Germany – results from the German Microcensus 2008

Juergen Dorbritz, Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany

The article aims to present the specific links between living arrangements and final numbers of children of various birth years in Germany in a West/East comparison. The German Microcensus 2008 data are hence evaluated, asking the question of the number of children born for the first time. The concept “individualisation and pluralisation of living arrangements” forms the theoretical background. The macro-level equivalent is ‘deinstitutionalisation’, that is changes in the institution of marriage and family. Hence, the institution only has a weakened impact as an orientation for conduct. This leads not to a new diversity of living arrangements, but to structural changes, with increasing significance of non-marital living arrangements. The question ensues as to how changed living arrangements impact birth trends in Germany. We see that two highly-diverging fertility patterns persist in the former Federal territory and in the new Länder, some common features remaining. A married couple with children remains the most common living arrangement in both German regions. This is particularly the case in Western Germany. The patterns however diverge in the parity-specific view, but lead to very similar average numbers of children. The low-fertility situation in the West stems from a very large number of childless women, the similar situation in the East being caused by the many one-child families. As to living arrangements, marriage and parenthood are less closely-linked in the East than in the West. Living-apart-together and non-marital living arrangements display much higher final numbers of children. Different deinstitutionalisation types are recorded in both German regions. The term deinstitutionalised familialism applies to the East (a low level of childlessness, contrasting with decoupling of marriage and parenthood). The term ‘familialised institutionalisation’ (a close link between marriage and parenthood, contrasting with more frequent option for childless living arrangements) was coined for the West.

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Presented in Session 75: Marriage and fertility

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