MPIDR Working Paper

Where qualitative research meets demography: interdisciplinary explorations of conceptions on fatherhood in an extremely low fertility context

von der Lippe, H., Fuhrer, U.

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2002-028, 45 Seiten (Juli 2002).
Rostock, Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

Revised May 2003

Schlagworte: Germany (Neue Bundesländer), fertility decline, men, social psychology


Recent demands to include psychological theories of decision-making and intention-formation in research on family formation coincide with calls for improving research on male fertility and fatherhood. In this paper, we address these notions and present findings from in-depth interviews with 30-year-old childless men from Eastern Germany on their desire for children. Our research is embedded in the societal situation of contemporary Eastern Germany, where birth rates have faced a historical low - the lowest in more than 10 years. We analyze fourteen interviews, using an analytical paradigm, which we derive from the contemporary social cognitive theory of intention-formation. The focus lies on the examination of male attitudes, values, motives, interests, goals, action beliefs, and self-concepts, and their connection to men´s intentions for parenthood.In conclusion, we compare our results with explanations that the Theory of Symbolic Self-Completion and the Theory of Reasoned Action give. We argue for the need to bring together psychological and sociological theorizing in this field.