Regional social contexts and fertility in Western Germany: a multilevel approach
170 pages. Rostock, University of Rostock (2002)
The dissertation investigates whether and how regional social contexts influence fertility decisions of women living in western Germany during the 1980s and 1990s.
To begin with, results of an analysis of official statistics for western German Kreise (districts) in the period 1995-97 are presented (see ). Geographic patterns of high- and low-fertility areas are detected, which have remained basically unchanged by the general fertility decline of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Consistent with findings from earlier studies, population density, family migration, and the local occupational structure are still found to be closely associated with regional total fertility rates in the 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 (see ). Then, data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) are linked with a rich set of regional indicators to estimate multilevel discrete-time logit models for the transition to first marriage and motherhood (first and second child).
Our results suggest that (1) basically all regional heterogeneity in women's entry into parenthood is due to differences in the respondents' marital status, while there is (2) a constant and significant regional variation in women's first marriage probabilities, which cannot be explained by population composition or by structural contextual effects (see ). Thus, regional influences on fertility behaviour do not have an autonomous quality, but are mediated through a latent contextual effect on women's risk of entering first marriage, which is attributed to regional socio-cultural milieus.
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Keywords: Germany/FRG, fertility