Family transitions and job instability in two German cities: an East-West comparison

Paola Di Giulio, Vienna Institute of Demography
Laura Bernardi, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and Université de Lausanne
Anja Vatterrott, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

The growing job instability is assumed to have a strong effect on the reproductive choices of the youngest generations. In the common opinion a more secure job environment should encourage efficient transitions on the labour market and provide the necessary safety for the starting of a family, while a less secure job environment should hamper and delay those transitions. However, the effect of the job instability on the reproductive career depends also on the existing labour legislations, the welfare systems, and the cultural context and therefore must be evaluated in different settings. From this point of view the German context is an ideal one. Almost 20 years after the reunification of East and West Germany the persistence of the effect of the long time political social and economic division is still visible in the demographic behaviour of the population. The motivation to start a family and have children, and the effect that the job instability has on delaying the reproductive transition is very different between East and West German people. A frequent result in the literature is that in West Germany there is a clear 'polarization' of families between 0 and 2 children, and to have completed the education is a prerequisite for starting a family. Instead, we expect that in East Germany there is less 'polarization' of families between 0 and 2 children, and the childbearing can start also during the studies. In this paper we compare the family formation and reproductive histories of a sample of about 2500 people 25-44 years old interviewed in two big German cities, a West German one, Hamburg, and an East German one, Dresden. In particular we analyse how the instability of the job situation interferes with the childbearing plan in two different settings, characterized by a different way of dealing with uncertainty.

Presented in Poster Session 1