Social influences on fertility: a comparative mixed methods study in Eastern and Western Germany
Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1:1, 23–47 (2007)
This article uses a mixed methods design to investigate the effects of social influence on family formation in a sample of eastern and western German young adults at an early stage of their family formation. Theoretical propositions on the importance of informal interaction for fertility and family behavior are still rarely supported by systematic empirical evidence. Major problems are the correct identification of salient relationships and the comparability of social networks across population subgroups. This article addresses the two issues through a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis. In-depth interviewing, network charts, and network grids are used to map individual personal relationships and their influence on family formation decisions. In addition, an analysis of friendship dyads is provided.