MPIDR Working Paper

Mapping social influence on fertility: a mix-method approach to data collection

Bernardi, L., von der Lippe, H., Keim, S.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2005-015, 27 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (June 2005)
Presented at the PAA Annual Meeting 2005, Philadelphia, March 31- April 2- Session 111 This working paper has been published. See the link above for further information.
Open Access


Theoretical propositions on the importance of social effects arising from informal interaction on fertility change are not yet supported by systematic empirical evidence (Kohler et al. 2002). The correct identification of informal relationships sali1ent for fertility decision-making and the comparability of social networks across population subgroups present major problems. This paper illustrates the design of a research project that specifically addresses these two problems. The project investigates the role of informal social networks on fertility decisions in East and West Germany by employing a multi-method research strategy. We use a combination of in-depth interviews, network charts, and network grids to elicit a map of individual personal relationships and to analyze their influence on respondents’ fertility decisions and intentions. We collect information in parallel from the respondents and from up to three members of their social network.

Keywords: Germany, family formation, methodology, social norms
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.