Crisis or adaptation – reconsidered: a comparison of East and West German fertility patterns in the first six years after the ‘Wende’

Kreyenfeld, M. R.

European Journal of Population, 19:3, 303-329 (2003)


Schlagworte: Germany, fertility


Like other Eastern European countries, East Germany experienced a rapid decline in period fertility rates after the fall of communism. This decline has been discussed along the lines of a ‘crisis’ and an ‘adaptation’ to western demographic patterns. The aim of this paper is twofold. Firstly, we discuss the factors which foster and hamper a convergence of fertility behaviour in East and West Germany. Secondly, we use data from the German micro-census to analyse the fertility patterns of the cohorts born 1961-1970. The main result of our empirical analysis is that East Germans who are still childless at unification are quicker to have their first child in the subsequent years than comparable West Germans. However, regarding second parity births, the pattern reverses. Here, East Germans display a lower transition rate than their counterparts in the West.