MPIDR Working Paper

On the psychological determinants of fertility: a panorama of concepts and approaches, and evidence from eastern Germany

von der Lippe, H.

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2006-050, 36 Seiten (Dezember 2006).
Rostock, Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

Revised April 2008

Schlagworte: Germany (Neue Bundesländer), fertility determinants, first birth, life span, psychology


In this paper we study the transition to parenthood, analyzing data from three waves of a psychological longitudinal survey from Rostock, eastern Germany. We apply hazard regressions in order to predict the timing of first births of 117 men and 124 women born in 1970 and 1971. Subjects, who were in their 20s during the 1990s, made their family decisions during the most turbulent times of societal transformation in eastern Germany following unification. We hypothesized a crucial relevance of personality traits, coping-styles, and other psychological variables for the prediction of fertility in this context. Results for men show that dispositional self-actualization and internal control-styles as well as a tendency to social withdrawal decrease the probability of fatherhood. For women, dispositional emotional stability and mental health decrease the probability of motherhood, whereas a tendency toward rationalization increases it. We discuss findings in light of the gender-specific life-span development of people’s personality and control behavior.