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Kerstin Ruckdeschel (2009)

Uncaring Mothers vs. Mother Hen: Desired Fertility and Perceptions of Motherhood in a German-French Comparison*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 34, 1-2/2009, p. 105-134, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398, DOI: 10.1007/s12523-010-0035-0

Abstract: There are marked differences between France and Germany in terms of the fertility level which are traced back to different family policy frameworks and to differences in the normative expectations as to the role of woman and mother. The influence exerted by these structural and cultural differences on desired fertility in both countries is examined with data from the German and French Generations and Gender Survey of 2005, Western and Eastern Germany being analysed separately. The results show that differences in attitudes between Western Germany and France are less pronounced than those between Western and Eastern Germany. When it comes to childless persons, cultural factors exert a significant influence on desired fertility; above all affirmation of the traditional housewife role has a positive impact in both countries, whilst there are indications that a negative attitude towards working mothers has a negative impact in Western Germany. The impact with parents tends to stem from structural factors, i.e. the actual earning constellation. A dual-earner partnership has a positive influence on fathers’ desired fertility in France, whilst its influence on Western German mothers is negative.

* peer-reviewed article (original German title: Rabenmutter contra Mère Poule: Kinderwunsch und Mutterbild im deutsch-französischen Vergleich)

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