Socialisation or institutional context: what determines the first and second birth behaviour of east–west German migrants?

Vatterrott, A.

European Journal of Population, 31:4, 383-415 (2015)


Schlagworte: Germany, fertility, internal migration, socio-economic indicators


In the more than two decades since German reunification, a convergence of total fertility rates in the eastern and western parts of the country has occurred. However, east–west differences remain in the timing, number, and spacing of births. The aim of this paper was to gain a better understanding of the relative importance of cultural norms and institutional contexts in the persistence of these differences by examining the fertility behaviour patterns of east–west migrants. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel for the years 1990–2011, and applying event history modelling, the first and second birth behaviour patterns of female east–west German migrants are compared to those of the non-mobile populations in the eastern and western parts of the country. The migrants’ first and second birth risks were found to lie between those of non-mobile eastern and western Germans. It is known that migrants are a selected group with respect to their socio-economic characteristics, value orientations, and partners’ characteristics. This selectivity appears to explain the second birth behaviour of migrants. For first births, the differences between the migrants and the eastern Germans were shown to be even greater after controlling for selective characteristics. For both birth orders, there is evidence for socialisation and adaptation effects, but not for progressive adaptation over time. The effect of an east–west migrant being partnered with a western German was accounted for, but did not seem to accelerate adaptation.