Differences in Fertility Patterns between East and West German Women. Disentangling the roles of cultural background and of the transformation process
The present study compares parity-specific fertility patterns of West and East German women (from birth cohorts 1970 and younger) after German re-unification using panel data from the GSOEP (waves 1990 through 2006). Whereas the transition rate for the birth of the first child tends to be higher in the East German than in the West German sub-sample, the likelihood of second births remains considerably higher among West German women across time. The analyses presented comprise a detailed comparative test of different intervening mechanisms, represented by sociocultural orientations and social inequalities resulting from the societal transformation process. Although the transition rate to first births among East German women is lowered by their higher education and work aspirations, their higher degree of family orientation promotes their propensity to start a family. Surprisingly, the higher proportion of persons without a denomination in East Germany promotes the transition to parenthood because it accelerates both the engagement in and the consolidation of intimate relationships. The lower transition rate to second births among East German women is partly accounted for by the higher work aspirations, by the lower religiosity and by the lower general life satisfaction in this subgroup.