Gender relations and fertility behaviour: a qualitative comparative study in France and in Germany

Sara Brachet, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

Among the studies of fertility determinants, demographers have pointed out four main factors : the rise of the individualism, the economic uncertainty, changes in gender roles and the family policies. Although most researchers take into account women’s increased participation in the labour market in relation to fertility, it remains unclear how gender relations within couples shape fertility intentions and behaviour. A hypothesis in this domain is that a more equal distribution of the family responsibilities could decrease the cost of childbearing for women and then have a positive impact on fertility. The aim of this paper is to analyse the link between gender relations and fertility in France and in Germany. We will try to understand the relationship between resources, gender practices and perceptions among young adults in childbearing ages on the one hand and the fertility behaviour and intentions on the other one. We use an innovative methodology, which consists in the analysis of comparable individual-level qualitative data collected in France and in Germany, completed by in-depth contextual knowledge of each country. To realize the semi-structured biographical interviews we used the same interview guide in France as in Germany. The qualitative data offers the possibility to analyze complex phenomena verified up to here only with the quantitative data. The comparison between these two countries, France and Germany, characterized by different family policies, also allows to integrate a micro-macro approach : the practices and the representations of the respondents are studied in each institutional and cultural context, to understand the interactions between the micro and the macro level specificities.

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Presented in Session 21: Gender Role Division, Gender Role Attitudes and Fertility