MPIDR Working Paper

Regional social contexts and individual fertility decisions: a multilevel analysis of first and second births in Western Germany

Hank, K.

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2001-015 (Juni 2001).
Rostock, Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

This working paper has now been published in European Journal of Population, 18 (3), 281-299.

Schlagworte: Germany (Alte Bundesländer), fertility, geography


In this paper, a multilevel approach is used to investigate whether and how regional social contexts influence first and second birth probabilities of women living in western Germany during the 1980s and 1990s. In the theoretical part it is argued that regional opportunity structures as well as local patterns of social interaction and culture may translate into parameters that directly affect individual behaviour. Individual level data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) are then linked with a set of regional indicators to estimate multilevel discrete-time logit models for the transition to the first and second child. The empirical analysis provides no evidence that the distinct fertility differences observed at the regional level are due to autonomous contextual effects. It is rather suggested that most of the observed regional variation may be due to differences in the spatial distribution of individual characteristics. (AUTHOR)