Employment and fertility - East Germany in the 1990s

Kreyenfeld, M. R.

Rostock, Rostock University (Doctoral Thesis) (2001)


Almost simultaneously with German reunification, eastern German birth rates fell to record lows. The aim of this study is to analyze the role of the labor market and of family policies in fertility decisions in the 1990s. In addition, factors are discussed that worked against a convergence of birth rates in east and west despite the political and legal unification of the formerly separated German states. Alongside developments on the labor market, it is examined how the differences in female employment and in the structural conditions affecting a woman’s ability to combine work and family. The German Micro-Census and the German Socio-Economic Panel serve as the data base – event-analytical models of the transition to the first and second child are estimated. One of the fundamental results of the empirical analysis is that eastern German women continue to be somewhat younger than western German women when they have their first child. Surprisingly, unemployment (this includes both male and female unemployment) does not cause couples to postpone the birth of their first child. When it comes to having a second child, the situation is reversed. Eastern German couples are less apt to decide to have a second child than their western German counterparts. Furthermore, the employment situation – especial that of the partner – plays a crucial role in the decision to have a larger family.