Having the next child in times of economic crisis? Mobile and non-mobile eastern Germans around unification

Anja Vatterrott, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Michaela Kreyenfeld, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

In this study, we analyze the impact of the economic crisis in the former German Democratic Republic following German reunification on family extension. We differentiate between women who have stayed in the region and those that have moved to the more prosperous region of western Germany. These women could profit from more favorable economic circumstances than the non-mobiles but at the same time suffered from disruption of their social networks. Western German women are included as a control group. We focus on second births because economic disruptions show more clearly in second birth patterns than in first births. Our research questions are whether we can confirm a negative impact of reunification on family extension in eastern Germany, whether recuperation took place, and whether mobility to western Germany could serve as a tool to escape the crisis and promote recuperation of family extension? We use data from BASiD, a large scale longitudinal data set linking information from the German employment and pension registers. While surveys cannot supply sufficient sample sizes of the latter mobile groups, BASiD allows for separate analysis of mobiles. The analyses focus on women born between 1955 and 1974, who had their first child between 1980 and 2000. We apply event history models to analyze the transition to the birth of the second child. Results show that reunification impacted second birth risk of eastern German women negatively, especially if they had their first child around 1990. For those who experienced family formation following reunification, second births recuperated, but did not reach either the western German level, nor the eastern German level of the 1980s. Mobility of eastern German women had a positive impact on second birth risks, likely owing to the more advantageous labor market situation in the receiving region.

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Presented in Session 71: Special thematic session on fertility transition: opportunities and threats