Principles, Opinions and Expectations Regarding Families and Fertility in Germany
The overriding question of the FLB project is, in what way do principles influence reproductive behaviour? To clarify this question it is necessary to identify and describe familial principles. The background to this is that research orientation in this area has neglected normative-cultural conditioning proportional to structural and socio-economic variables. Therefore, this research project has the primary aim of closing this gap and enabling use of the findings in particular to explain the persistently low birth rate in Germany. It hopes to clarify what principles can be identified at all with regard to reproductive behaviour, what correlations there are between individual principles, fertility intention and the number of children people have and how principles influence reproductive behaviour. Their effects on the preferred and implemented forms of relationships – specifically intimate relationships – are also analysed, since there is an interdependent relationship between this and reproductive behaviour. Consequently, this project strives to better explain the different patterns of family development in Western and Eastern Germany by including specific principles.
This project started in January 2010. In the first phase, the possibilities of theoretical grounding, the current state of research, methodical preliminary considerations and potentials for analysis of existing data sources, were examined in order to derive specific questions from them. Since then, we have also designed a questionnaire on the basis of further preliminary theoretical and empirical work (qualitative preliminary studies) in order to research the family principles of young people in Germany more precisely. We commissioned the opinion research institute TNS Infratest to conduct the survey for our FLB study. The interviewers from TNS Infratest have interviewed 5,001 randomly chosen people aged between 20 and 39 years from August until November 2012 in a nationwide representative telephone study. Out of these, 96 percent agreed to take part in a second interview at a later date. The second wave was finally conducted in 2016.
It becomes apparent that the distinction between individual expectations and perceived leitbilder in society as a whole generates interesting findings, differences are clearly evident. Furthermore, the newly designed questions, as for example those regarding role models for mothers and fathers as well as acceptance of differing couple and family constellations, will generate valuable knowledge. The data set also contains great potentials for analysis, especially in regard to possible explanations for differences in fertility between Eastern and Western Germany.
The data of the first wave of the FLB survey can be accessed at GESIS under the study number ZA6760.