Jan Eckhard (2006)
The Path from Partnerlessness to Childlessness: The Change in Partnership Biographies and Links to Birth Trends*
In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 31, 1/2006, p. 105-125, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398
In light of the increasing divorce rates and the growing number of persons of adult age living alone, the question arises as to the degree to which the falling birthrates in Germany are also caused by the fact that partnerships on which parenthood could be built are becoming increasingly rare. To this end, the study takes as a basis the DJI family survey (3rd wave) to investigate first of all the partnership biographies of various Western German women’s birth cohorts. A trend has been identified which leads away from ongoing relationships between couples, towards a sequence of shorter relationships. The question is subsequently pursued as to whether the differences in the birth cohorts’ birthrates are caused by these biographical changes regarding partnerships. It is shown here that the impact of the birth year on the number of children that women have had by the age of 30 approximates if one verifies for various characteristics related to partnership biographies. In particular the increasing partnerlessness at the peak of adulthood and the fact that relationships between couples are becoming shorter by virtue of the increased likelihood of separation must accordingly be regarded as contextual conditions which help to explain the falling numbers of births.
* peer-reviewed article (original German title: Kinderlosigkeit durch Partnerschaftslosigkeit: Der Wandel der Partnerschaftsbiographien und Zusammenhänge mit der Geburtenentwicklung)