MPIDR Working Paper

The compatibility between work and family life – an empirical study of second birth risks in West Germany and France

Köppen, K.

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2004-015, 41 Seiten (Mai 2004).
Rostock, Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

Schlagworte: comparative analysis


In this study, we compare second birth risks in France and West Germany using data from the Family and Fertility Survey (FFS). Second birth risks in France are higher than in West Germany and we investigate whether this phenomenon relates to different institutional constraints regarding the compatibility between work and family life. Considering that education is a good indicator for higher career and income prospects, one would assume that highly educated women encounter low fertility rates in a society that makes it hard to combine both domains. Our results, however, show that second birth risks are higher for highly educated women than for women with lower education in both countries. Nevertheless, the positive effect of women’s education on second birth risks is strong and stable in the case of France only. In West Germany, the positive effect is a weak one and it weakens even further after controlling for the eduaction level of the partner. In France, the strong positive effect of women’s education on second birth risks remains unchanged, even after controlling for the partners’ characteristics and other control variables. Our conclusion is that since in France the compatibility between work and family life is relatively high, highly educated women turn their education into work opportunities and income. In West Germany, where work and family life are rather incompatible, women often have to make a decision between an employment career and motherhood as two exclusive life options. In such a situation, it is primarily the partners’ economic situation that influences fertility.