Development and determinants of higher-order fertility in Germany and France

Anne Hornung, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

In this paper, we compare the development of the patterns related to higher-order fertility in Germany and France during the last decades and give an account of the factors determining the transition to higher-order births. Having three or more children continues to be widely spread in France while there is statistical evidence for continuously decreasing numbers of families with many children in both parts of Germany. To assess the phenomenon of higher-order fertility, we search for the differences (or similarities) in the development in France, West and East Germany as only little is known from vital statistics or previous studies. The second research question focuses on the determinants of the transition to a third birth. In our analyses, we give a descriptive account of higher-order birth patterns by generating survival curves before applying event-history-analysis techniques to estimate the relative risks of having a third birth. The data used are the French Etude de l’histoire familiale 1999 and the German birth survey Geburten in Deutschland 2006. Both datasets contain detailed information on the fertility histories of large samples of women. Further variables concern education histories, partner’s characteristics or nationality. First empirical analyses confirm a relatively stable and high proportion of French women with three children and a steady decrease in births of the fourth or higher order in all three regions considered. For the inner-German comparison, we find huge variation in the distribution of women without children and with one or two children while, from the cohort perspective, the evolution of the third or higher birth orders has developed in an equal fashion and towards an equally low level in West and East Germany. Moreover, we see that spacing between the second and third births has generally widened in each of the three regions.

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Presented in Poster Session 1

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