MPIDR Working Paper

Fertility-relevant social networks: composition, structure, and meaning of personal relationships for fertility intentions

Keim, S., Klärner, A., Bernardi, L.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2009-006, 27 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (March 2009)
Submitted to peer reviewed journal, minor revisions pending for acceptance
Open Access


Although the relevance of social interactions or social networks for fertility research has been increasingly acknowledged in recent years, little is known about the channels and mechanisms of social influences on individuals� fertility decision making. Drawing on problem-centred interviews and network data collected among young adults in western Germany the authors show that qualitative methods broaden our understanding of social and contextual influences on couples� fertility intentions, by exploring the phenomenon, taking into account subjective perceptions, analysing interactions within networks as well as the dynamics of networks. Qualitative methods allow for the collection and analysis of rich retrospective information on network dynamics in relation to life course events. This also can be helpful both to complement the still rare longitudinal data on social networks and to develop parsimonious and efficient survey instruments to collect such information in a standardized way.
Keywords: Germany, fertility, qualitative methods, social network
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.