The timing of family formation

Torsten Schröder, University of Bremen
Katharina Maul, University of Bremen

Difficulties of achieving aims in career and family at the same time are considered to be an important cause for today’s fertility decline in the European Union and in the United States. As a result of the rising opportunities in leisure and career particularly the recent cohorts of women have to control the timing of more life aims over the life course than earlier cohorts. In Germany the possibilities to combine career with existing family plans haven’t been implemented sufficiently, and the time-intensive traditional idea about female family-care is widespread. For this reason, women have to decide to a stronger extent than men between their aims in family and vocational career. Theories like the second demographic transition model contain many economic and non-economic factors which are important for life-time decisions like parenthood. In fact the aspects of such decisions are so complicated that people are forced to simplify them to come to a solution. We assume that the decision to postpone parenthood or to realize it is not only a question of incentives. Only the relevant incentives are taken into account, and the relevance of aims in leisure, career and parenthood is affected by individual life-plans. But how are different life-aims and incentives joined together – and how do they influence the decision for parenthood? In this paper, we use some developmental-psychological assumptions to present assumptions, which give us the “missing link” between goal-attainment and (the perception) of incentives – and of course a deeper understanding on what is going on with families. Finally we proof our assumptions with empirical data using the PAIRFAM dataset. The data was collected in three waves from autumn 2005 to autumn 2006 in four German cities, and contains variables about life planning.

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Presented in Session 83: Timing of Family Formation