MPIDR Working Paper

Where qualitative research meets demography: interdisciplinary explorations of conceptions on fatherhood in an extremely low fertility context

von der Lippe, H., Fuhrer, U.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2002-028, 45 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (July 2002)
Revised May 2003
Open Access


Recent demands to include psychological theories of decision-making and intention-formation in research on family formation coincide with calls for improving research on male fertility and fatherhood. In this paper, we address these notions and present findings from in-depth interviews with 30-year-old childless men from Eastern Germany on their desire for children. Our research is embedded in the societal situation of contemporary Eastern Germany, where birth rates have faced a historical low - the lowest in more than 10 years. We analyze fourteen interviews, using an analytical paradigm, which we derive from the contemporary social cognitive theory of intention-formation. The focus lies on the examination of male attitudes, values, motives, interests, goals, action beliefs, and self-concepts, and their connection to men´s intentions for parenthood.In conclusion, we compare our results with explanations that the Theory of Symbolic Self-Completion and the Theory of Reasoned Action give. We argue for the need to bring together psychological and sociological theorizing in this field.
Keywords: Germany (Neue Bundesländer), fertility decline, men, social psychology
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.